Every Kentwood High School boys’ basketball pre-game shootaround ends with a halfcourt-shot contest.
And on every occasion, Conquerors’ guard Jackson Huerta is the odds-on favorite to sink one.
Getting a clear look at a midcourt heave is one thing – sinking a buzzer-beater with two defenders on you is a whole different challenge entirely.
But one the senior was up to.
After Emerald Ridge’s Jeremy Harris sank two free throws to give his team the lead with 2.5 seconds to go, Huerta dashed up the left side, got off a shot just inside halfcourt that went in, lifting Kentwood to a stunning 53-52 overtime victory in the South Puget Sound League tournament at Puyallup High School on Saturday afternoon
The shot literally sunk the Jaguars’ season – the winner took home the league’s final seed to next week’s West Central District championships while the loser was eliminated.
Huerta said as soon as the shot left his hand, he had a feeling it would be rewarded.
“I am comfortable from the left (side),” Huerta said. “I spin it a little bit.”
Something was going on with that shot, because it hit the backboard first, then the front rim, then the backboard one more time before it fell through for the game-winner.
Huerta faced a similar shot from 10 feet back at the end of regulation hit the front rim and barely lipped out.
Kentwood coach Blake Solomon noted the pre-game shooting contest as one chance at glory – or in the players’ case another incentive.
“One chance to make a $1,” Solomon said, laughing.
The Jaguars led 41-31 with 7:15 remaining in regulation, but the Conquerors rallied – and tied it at 44-44 on Huerta’s 3-pointer with 40 seconds to go.
Emerald Ridge set up a final play for guard Marcus Harris, who was fouled splitting two Kentwood defenders with 2.5 seconds remaining. He missed both free throws.