Joe Davidson

In season of buzzer-beaters, Ripon High playoff bucket may be biggest

Video: Ripon High beats Union Mine on half-court shot at final buzzer in playoff win

Ripon defeated Union Mine 68-66 in a San Joaquin Section D-IV first-round game, thanks to a half-court shot at buzzer by Cole Stevens on Wednesday night, Feb. 24, 2016, at Ripon, Calif.
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Ripon defeated Union Mine 68-66 in a San Joaquin Section D-IV first-round game, thanks to a half-court shot at buzzer by Cole Stevens on Wednesday night, Feb. 24, 2016, at Ripon, Calif.

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.

Bella Vista Broncos beat Ponderosa High 65-63 as Eljay Gallegos drives and dishes out to Joshua Caraccio for game-winning basket in a league game on Friday, Jan. 8, 2016.

- Scott Trembinski draining a swish just beyond half court to beat Rio Americano 47-44.

Scott Trembinski’s two-handed heave from just beyond half court gave Lincoln a 47-44 nonleague victory in boys high school basketball over visiting Rio Americano.

- 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.

El Camino High School guard Kenneth Olsem hits a three-pointer as the buzzer sounds to defeat Rio Americano 56-54, the latest in last-second heroics for Sacramento area high school basketball teams, on Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2016.

In other words, plenty more games for more fantastic finishes.

Joe Davidson: 916-321-1280, @SacBee_JoeD

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