When Foss High’s Dezmyn Trent swished his second free throw, tying the score with 2.6 seconds left, Wilson High’s boys basketball team didn’t panic.
Rams guard Kevin Johnson took the ball on the baseline and looked downcourt, ready to inbound to an open teammate. He spied Jaiden Martin and heaved the ball the length of the floor.
Martin caught the ball and banked in a 6-footer as the buzzer sounded, lifting Wilson to a 54-52 Narrows League 3A win at ninth-ranked Foss
“That last play (Johnson) made the absolute perfect throw,” Rams coach Dave Alwert marveled. “Jaiden with the catch and finish, you can’t draw it up any better than that.”
The win moves Wilson (3-0 league, 11-2) into sole possession of first place in the Narrows League 3A.
Foss (2-1, 10-2) rallied from a disastrous second quarter – the Falcons committed eight turnovers and were outscored 12-5 in the period – and pushed Wilson, which led 43-34 with six minutes left in the game. The Falcons went on a 14-5 run over the next five minutes, tying the score at 48-48 with 1:24 to play.
“We sped the game up, pressed them,” Foss coach Mike Cocke’ said. “Something we should have done a lot earlier. I’ll take the blame for that.”
The teams traded baskets until Daviyonta Booth’s 2-footer put Wilson up 52-50 with 17 seconds left. Foss answered when Andraell Fountain fouled Trent on the baseline. Trent, who finished with a game-high 20 points, buried both free throws and evened the score at 52-52 with 2.6 seconds to go.
During a timeout, Alwert told the Rams what to run. The play was called “Valparaiso,” a nod to the famous game-winning play Valparaiso University pulled off in the 1998 NCAA Tournament.
Johnson reared back and fired a perfect pass to Martin. The nearest Falcon was 10 feet away. Martin’s shot went up, hit the backboard, bounced off the iron and into the hoop.
“I’ve never seen a finish like that in 30 years of basketball,” Cocke’ said. “Big shot by Dez to step up and make free throws. We’ve got to get back and finish the game and take it to overtime.”
Martin led Wilson in scoring with 14 points and reserve guard Ivy Smith gave the Rams a boost. The 5-foot-3, 94-pound freshman scored all 10 of his points, including two 3-pointers, in the second half. Smith received his most significant playing time of the season in part because starting point guard Phoenix Waters was in foul trouble most of the game. He also proved he might be deserving of more action.
“Littlest guy in the state, has the biggest heart and played the biggest I’ve ever seen,” Alwert said of Smith. “For a freshman to come out in a big game like that, to knock down the threes, to handle the rock the way he did, to throw the passes he did, its amazing. I’m so pleased.”