In a basketball season defined in large part by dramatic buzzer-beaters, how about one more?
With a lot on the line?
Say hello to Cole Stevens, the sudden campus hero at Ripon High School late Wednesday evening on throughout Thursday, and likely the man of the hour for any team reunion for decades to come.
A 6-foot-2 junior, Stevens uncorked a shot just beyond half court in a final, desperate hope to save the season. With the ball in mid flight and Union Mine leading by two, the final horn sounded, and then the ball hit off the glass and rattled home.
Bedlam for the winners, profound disbelief for the losers.
Ripon escaped 68-66 in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV opener on Wednesday night, staggering the visiting Diamondbacks from El Dorado and opening the floodgates for students to rush the floor.
"It felt good when I let it go," Stevens told The Modesto Bee's Ron Agostini.
Stevens said, like any player, he has attempted his share of half-court heaves for fun in practice. They never work, or so rarely that you'd never expect it to happen in a game. Stevens had 14 points against Union Mine.
The No. 8-seeded Indians (23-5) will need more big plays on Friday as they take on top-seeded Central Catholic of Modesto in a decades-long rivalry meeting. Ripon rallied from 12 down against Union Mine with two minutes to play, sparked in part by a Stevens' three-pointer and capped by the most improbable three of the season.
The other area buzzer beaters of note include:
- Bella Vista beating Ponderosa 65-63 as Josh Caraccio takes a pass from Eljay Gallegos and hits a corner three.
- Scott Trembinski draining a swish just beyond half court to beat Rio Americano 47-44.
- Matt Lyon of Rio Americano hitting a wild, off-balance 45-footer off an inbound pass to beat rival El Camino 57-55.
- Christian Brothers downing Rio Americano 64-63 on a last-play Elias King bucket off a feed from Jamarri Jackson.
- Kenny Olsem stunning Rio Americano with a winning three, 56-54.
In other words, plenty more games for more fantastic finishes.