Every kid fantasizes about it. Commercials mimic it. And when a player accomplishes it, they are immortalized. The buzzer-beater is an amazing phenomenon. So to have a game with two of the heart-stopping plays is nearly unheard of.
East's Christian Brown hit three 3-pointers in the last four minutes of the Leopards' game against their rivals from Highland. His last trey came with his team trailing by three, 44-47 with 2.5 seconds remaining. The gym erupted and his team stormed on the court thinking they were headed to overtime as the clock ran out.
The officials conferred and put the 2.5 seconds back on the clock, just enough time for Highland to draw up one last chance. The Rams threw a pass to the other end of the court at the foul line to Nate Fakahafua. He jumped high to catch the ball and fired a pass to the left wing where James Angstman caught the ball and shot it in one motion. The ball dropped through the hoop and Highland had an improbable 50-47 win.
"It is something you dream about," said Angstman. "From the time you are a little kid outside shooting in your driveway you always do the three two one thing and let it fly. This time I just got to hit one that really mattered. It felt good the second I let it go. I was pretty sure it was going in, and once it did, it was just the best feeling."
The fact that there was even a chance for late-game heroics was a testament to both sides resolve. In the first half, Highland was forced to play without center Latu Heimuli after he picked up two fouls in the first two minutes of the game. His presence was sorely missed.
"Our offense didn't run as well without him," said Rams coach Keith West. "We need him in the middle to open things up for us, dump it in and then let him kick it back out. Max Wood did a good job filling in for us, however."
The result was Highland's offense struggled. The Rams turned the ball over 12 times in the opening half and shot a woeful 6-of-18. If not for going 8-for-12 at the free throw line, the game could have been out of hand. As it was, the Leopards offense was not much better as they shot 6-of-18 as well and 5-of-9 at the line.
"Our defense kept us in it," added West. "We had a game plan to go to the line, and we got there."
Highland got back on track in the second half as it started with a 7-0 run, and had the lead as high as 10 points before Brown began his terrific shooting to end the game with the momentum-changing plays.Highland was led by Jon Henderson's 16 points, and teammate Walker Jensen chipped in with 11. Brown was the only Leopard in double figures with 17 points.