Saturday, Feb. 21, 2009 | 12:08 a.m.
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Steve Silver and Ray Brewer break down all the prep basketball playoff action.
Eldorado senior guard Charles White was at a loss for words.
He couldn't describe what he saw on the court with 6.7 second left in the Sunrise Regional Boys Basketball Finals on Friday that led to his game-winning shot to beat Liberty 57-56. Nor could he describe how it felt to know that he was the difference between the end of the season and the trip the Sundevils are now taking to the state tournament on Thursday.
What he could describe was the difference was the stark contrast between the locker room after last year's loss to Foothill in the regional finals and the lockeroom this year.
"This time last year we were crying and wondering what we should have done different," White said. "We were wishing we could play the game over. This year, this just feels amazing."
With less than a minute left in the game, the Sundevils trailed Liberty by five points and went into foul mode to slow the clock down. The Patriots have made a comfort zone of the free throw line in the fourth quarter this year and looked to be in excellent position to put the game out of reach but went 4-of-9 with the game on the line to open the door for the Sundevils.
With 6.7 seconds left, the Sundevils gave the ball to White who drove to the hoop for a game-winning lay-up.
"They got the ball to me and there wasn't a choice. I had to make it because my team needed me," White said. "I did try to think about it I just went for it. There was nothing else to do."
The 'Devils were led by senior guard Tone Gatewood who had a team-high 18 points followed by guard Mitrell Clark (15) and forward Marcus Moreland (12).
"We knew Liberty was a good team and that they were going to give us a good game," Eldorado coach Mike Uzan said. "When that clock was winding down I just believed in my guys. They never got their heads down and I knew they had it them to come back."
Liberty senior Kenneth Peters led the Patriots with 18 points with 10 from senior point guard Cameron Peters and 11 from senior forward Milos Knezevic. Knezevic also posted a game-high 14 rebounds.
Liberty coach Pat Welby said the last-second loss was tough to take but he thinks his team can refocus in time for their state play-in game on Monday.
The Patriots will face Palo Verde, the loser of Friday's Sunset Regional championship game against Bishop Gorman.
"We're looking forward to another opportunity to get into the state tournament," Welby said. "It's an opportunity a lot of other teams don't have so we're going to give it our best shot. We're going to have to play the way we know we can."
Jared Harmon can be reached at 990-8922 or [email protected].