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'The dunk heard 'round Albany'

Monroe Super 6er Jabari McGhee slammed home a missed shot with less than a second left Thursday night vs. Dougherty to lift the Tornadoes to the Region 1-AAA title game tonight against Crisp County.

Monroe Super 6er Jabari McGhee slammed home a missed shot with less than a second left Thursday night vs. Dougherty to lift the Tornadoes to the Region 1-AAA title game tonight against Crisp County.

ALBANY — Jabari McGhee’s dunk broke the silence like a thunder strike.

A split second before the final buzzer sounded in Thursday’s Region 1-AAA semifinal between Monroe and Dougherty, McGhee grabbed an offensive rebound and slammed it home to give the Tornadoes a 47-45 victory.

McGhee called it being in the right place at the right time.

It may soon be called the “dunk heard ‘round Albany.”

It was that breathtaking. It was that sudden.

“I thought time might have expired. I didn’t know,” said McGhee, a 6-foot-6 junior who led the Tornadoes with 18 points, 15 rebounds and three blocks. “It came off just at the right time, and I was in just the right place. I am always going to the rim. No matter how much time is on the clock, I am always going to the rim to get a rebound.”

It was the perfect ending to a back-and-forth game. The teams traded leads in the final two minutes before Dougherty’s Darrell Anthony sank two free throws with five seconds left to tie the game at 45-45.

On the final possession, Monroe’s Daniel House drove the length of the floor and threw up a runner in the lane. With less than a second on the clock, McGhee seemingly came out of nowhere to grab the rebound and throw down the two-handed dunk in one swift motion.

He hung on the rim for a brief moment as the horn sounded, the Monroe fans erupted and the Dougherty fans stood stunned.

Minutes after the game, Dougherty coach Donald Poole was still sitting on his bench in disbelief. He wouldn’t comment on McGhee’s dunk, but many of the Dougherty fans agreed that the slam shouldn’t have counted because time expired.

“It was a good ending for them. It wasn’t a good ending for us,” Poole said. “We’ve been in games like this before. I have been on the losing side of some. This is the way the game goes.”

Monroe coach Marquis Davis, who saw his team overcome 22 turnovers and eight missed free throws to have a chance to defend their region title tonight, said McGhee, a Herald Super 6er, stepped up on a night where the Tornadoes were missing 6-7 center Rantavious Gilbert, who is still day-to-day with an injury.

“He made a basketball play,” Davis said of the dunk. “It was nothing that we told him to do. He just went for the offensive board, and there it was. I don’t think the clock expired. I think he tipped it in right at the nick of the buzzer.”

The dunk sent Monroe into the region championship game today at 8:30 p.m. against Crisp County, while Dougherty will play in the third-place game against Westover at 5:30 p.m.

Anthony led Dougherty with nine points, while Michael Miller and Alford Brown each scored eight. Dougherty led by as many as eight points in the first half before Monroe ended the half on a 17-7 run. Monroe led by as many as seven points in the third quarter before Dougherty’s late charge.

Also scoring in double figures for the Herald No. 3 Tornadoes was Hakeem Porter, who finished with 10 points.