By David Knox
BIRMINGHAM — Algie Surrell hit a short jumper with 2.4 seconds left to lift Parker over Clay-Chalkville 47-46 at Cap Brown Gym.
The Cougars saw a nine-point lead with 2:14 to play disappear. A critical offensive foul and travel call late stunned the Cougars, who outplayed Parker all night.
Parker (23-6) advances to Jacksonville for the Northeast Regional. Clay’s season ends at 21-7.
The Cougars trailed only briefly in the first half, at 6-5, and built a six-point lead several times before Parker made a run late in the first half to cut the lead to two points. But Clay took a 23-18 lead at the break when Jovan Gale knocked down a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
The Cougars did a solid job on the defensive boards despite a big size disadvantage. Eddie Smith knocked down two 3-pointers.
Smith knocked down a 3 on the first possession of the second half for a 26-18 lead, but Parker went on an 8-0 run to tie the score with 3:41left in the quarter.
Jalen Jordan hit a pair of free throws to give Clay a 28-26 lead. Keithan Parker came up with a steal and Jordan was fouled on a drive with 7.5 seconds left.
He made both throws and Clay took a 30-26 lead to the final period.
A pair of Anthony Holmes free throws with 3:13 left pushed the lead to nine at 42-33, and Holmes drove to the hoop for a basket with 2:20 to go to push it back to 44-35.
Holmes was fouled with 2:14 to go and made one toss to push it to 45-36, but Cam’Ron Beard made a conventional three-point play to cut the lead to 45-39 with 2:01 left.
Beard finished at the rim after a block to cut the lead to four with 1:32 left. He made another driving hoop with 1:17 to go to make it 46-43,Clay, then he converted again off a steal to make it a one-point game with 56 seconds left.
Beard was unstoppable in the final period, scoring 10 of his 18 points in the quarter.
Holmes finished with 13 and Jordan had 12.