Article by Cody Pomeranz, ‘11, Sports Section Editor. Video shot and edited by Baldur Tangvald, ‘11, Video Editor.
Less than a minute left. The Indians were up, 41-40.
The likelihood that Summit would regain the lead was minimal, their only chance being a shot from way beyond the three-point line. As the game’s announcer, I was preparing for my sign off: “And that’ll do it, as the Indians take back the Country Day crown in a nail-biting 41-40 victory,” I wrote on the back of my roster sheet, ready to read it after time ran out.
CCDS fans were on the edge of their seats, ready to burst into a thunderous roar after the buzzer sounded. But Summit’s Kevin Johnson spoiled the party. With a little over five seconds on the clock, Johnson squared up from several feet beyond the arc and fired a soaring shot that put a dagger in the spirit of CCDS fans and players. I sighed and began crossing out the announcement I had previously written. Below the scribble, I began to rewrite, “And that’ll do it as the Summit Knights defeat your Indians, 43-41.”
The close game had been full of tension and excitement up to that point. The previous CCDS-Summit match-up on Jan. 8 had ended in a disappointing 16-point loss, but tonight, the close score, and the fact that it was Senior Night, the seniors’ last home game of their careers, and a showdown against CCDS’s biggest rival had created an electric environment.
“I’m not too fond of Summit,” said senior Rameez Khan. “I just wanted to win.”
The Indians came out of the gates demonstrating that winning mentality. While Summit jumped to an early 9-4 lead, the Indians maintained a close score, trailing by only 1 point (21-20) at half after freshman D.J. Wingfield’s buzzer beating jumper at the end of the second quarter.
The second half, however, was all Indians. Seniors Khan and Rob Klug came out firing on all cylinders, lifting the Indians to an 8-point lead (32-24) with a couple of 3-pointers.
Nevertheless, Summit would not fall easily. The Silver Knights quickly regained their composure and cut the gap, eventually taking the lead late in the fourth quarter (40-39). With less than a minute to go, junior Robbie Pierce fired up a three from the right wing of the court. The shot rimmed out, but Pierce elicited a foul after the Summit defender made contact with him during the attempt. That meant that Pierce, one of the team’s purest free-throw shooters, would get three attempts from the line with 52 seconds remaining in the game. The Summit fans were fired up. Yelling at the top of their lungs, the Knights’ fans tried their hardest to distract Pierce. Maintaining his composure, Pierce sunk two out of three, giving the Indians a 1-point lead.
Summit would try for the last shot. With 10 seconds remaining, the Knights scrambled for a clear look at the hoop. One Knight tossed the ball from one side of the court to the other to teammate Tommy Kreyenhagen. Unfortunately for the Indians, Kreyenhagen was the Knights best shooter, having already made three 3-pointers in the game. But the shooter was covered, not to mention off-balance, when he caught the ball, forcing him to pass to teammate Kevin Johnson at the top of the key.
Johnson, guarded by Khan, made two crossovers to no avail. Realizing the time pressure, he squared up well beyond the three point line and … sunk it. The Summit fans were in uproar, relishing the moment. One could feel the Indian spirit being sucked out of the gym as the score was changed to 43-41, CCDS down. And now just 4.6 seconds remained on the clock.
As I began to rewrite my closing statement, as I mentioned above, Coach Howard Brownstein called a timeout. Summit fans began a taunting chant: “Why so quiet?” Indians fans responded with, “Let’s play football!”
As the football chant began to die down and fans began gathering their coats, the expectations for the final play weren’t high. After all, the Indians had to go the full length of the court and score in 4.6 seconds.
“Most of the guys on the team thought we didn’t have much of a chance,” said Khan.
Coach Brownstein drew up a play. It was relatively simple: have Khan and freshman Chance Alldred set two screens for Wingfield, the Indians’ star player, and have Wingfield take the ball past half court to take the shot. Everything was in place.
Pierce inbounded the ball to Wingfield as Alldred and Khan set the screens. Wingfield bolted up the left side of the court.
The play was thwarted. Khan’s man went to help double team Wingfield as he approached the half court mark, leaving Khan wide open on the left wing of the court. Quickly recognizing the opening, Wingfield adapted, making a bounce pass to Khan before the defenders could cut off the left lane.
“He just made a great bounce pass,” said Khan. As soon as the senior received the pass, he fired from beyond the arc.
The ball soared through the air for what seemed like forever.
“I knew there was little time left. I just put it up and hoped for the best,” said Khan. “I didn’t think it was going in. I thought it was going to be an air ball.” It wasn’t. Khan’s shot rattled in the rim and fell through the net.
Game Over. The buzzer sounded.
CCDS fans jumped to their feet and shook the gym as they flooded the court.
“For the first few seconds, I was so in shock that I didn’t move,” said Khan. “Then I ran to the middle of the court, where I was mobbed.”
The student section swarmed around Khan, now at the bottom of a raucous celebration pile.
“It was the most frightening thing. I just got in the fetal position, and hoped not to get killed,” Khan told Cincinnati Enquirer.
The game was over. The Indians had regained the Country Day crown with a stunning 44-43 victory. And I had no idea what to do. I had crossed out my entire closing statement, and thus had nothing to say.
“And it’s over!” I impulsively screamed into the microphone multiple times. Despite my incredulity, along with everyone else’s, nothing could have compared to Khan’s reaction. As he regained balance from the mob of fans, the senior wore an expression of excitement and disbelief.
Thirteen points, three 3-pointers, and the buzzer-beater shot to secure victory for his team. Not a bad way to end his basketball career at his home gym.
“It was a dream,” Khan said, still in disbelief. “I have to say it aloud to make sure it’s true.”
The Indians had defeated their rivals in a thriller that will be remembered for a long time. And the entire Indians team had contributed. Junior Ryan Galloway and Wingfield ruled the boards, with 15 rebounds apiece. Pierce came through in the clutch at the free-throw line. Klug and Khan dominated from beyond the arc, with two and three 3-pointers, respectively. Juniors Wyatt Tiffany and Dan Angus, and freshman Alldred were vital off the bench. In short, while Khan brought it home, the victory was 100% a team effort.
I remember John Graves’ crossover of O.J. Mayo. I remember the “You wear purple!” chants against CHCA. But never before, in all my years at this school, have I witnessed anything like what I saw on the night of Friday, Feb. 12. Like Jordan’s buzzer beater in Cleveland, Khan’s three will be known simply as “The Shot.”