TAMPA — Trailing by one point with a packed house roaring on their feet, Freedom passed the ball around the Wharton defense as the final seconds ticked down, eight, seven, six, five …Freedom guard Nick Butler drove toward the hoop. Two Wharton defenders collapsed on Butler, who swung the ball back to Xavier Betancourt, who stood four feet behind the top of the 3-point arc.Calmly, cooly, Betancourt received the pass and then released a high, arching shot that whistled cleanly through the net with three seconds remaining.Pandemonium.At last it was a victory over the arch-rival Wildcats, who failed to get off a final shot, sealing the final score in a key Class 8A, District 8 battle: Freedom 51, Wharton 49.”I was not nervous,” said Betancourt, a senior who shoots dozens of 3-pointers every morning at 6:30 a.m. “I have been waiting my whole life for that opportunity. I have practiced that moment. I have dreamed it. I was ready for it. I wanted it.”When he released the ball, Betancourt said he knew, “It was good. I just felt it. You can tell when it’s going to be good.”The shot ended a furious, fast-paced, back-and-forth contest that featured an 18-7 first-quarter… Read full this story
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