The game was tied in overtime as Edgewater’s Nyala Shuler stared up at the basket from the free throw line with one shot left and zero seconds remaining. Miss it and the game would march forward into the uncertainty of another grueling overtime period. Make it and the championship belongs to the Eagles. Swish, repeat.
Both Edgewater basketball teams were on the court the same day Feb. 23 fighting for a shot at a title, but those games would end with dramatically different outcomes.
For the Eagles’ girls basketball team, a second straight state championship win would be theirs on the tail end of a wild 50-49 overtime win in Lakeland. They had battled Choctawhatchee to a 42-42 stalemate in regulation.
It was looking like it was about to be another OT when Shuler was fouled with no time left on the clock. This was unfamiliar territory for the Eagles. In their entire playoff run none of their games had been even close. They blew out Melbourne 64-16 in the first round of regionals. After that, they never won by less than 15 points.
With everything riding on her shoulders, all Shuler had to do was sink one basket from the head of the key. When the ball tickled the twine, the sudden-death win went to Edgewater.
A few hours later, back on their home court, the Edgewater boys team faced Gainesville for a shot at their own title — the regional championship — and a chance at more.
With eight seconds left, it was looking like the Eagles would have that victory and that chance. Up 55-54 with the game nearly over, all they had to do was stop Gainesville from scoring. A foul took away a play opportunity, but gave Gainesville two shots at the free throw line. The Hurricanes’ Isaiah Jackson sank them both. When the Eagles were fouled on the ensuing two possessions, they missed shots that would have tied the game.
Eddie Keith led the Eagles in scoring with 24, but with the 56-55 loss, Edgewater’s postseason was over.