So many sights and sounds from East Aurora's instant classic Friday night; this is where we will begin and end this week's ATR. Fortunately, I packed extra batteries for my Flip camera. It got a work out Friday night.
First off, everyone in the gym thought the Tomcats had won the game in regulation. Up 57-54, Neuqua Valley missed a game tying 3-point shot with seconds left. The Wildcats' Dwayne Evans got to the ball, but all that was left was the final horn to sound. Instead, the officials granted Neuqua a timeout and put 1.8 seconds on the clock. The only person in the gym who felt the Wildcats deserved the timeout was the coach who called it, Todd Sutton.
"I knew we had the time left," said Sutton after the game. "They fixed it to what it should be."
Then as often happens in sporting events, the improbable happened. Rahjan Muhammed drained a turnaround 25-footer at the buzzer to tie the game at 57 and send it into overtime. Watch the shot here:
Not even East Aurora coach Wendell Jeffries had to think the Tomcats were going to win in overtime.
But when you have #22 in your backcourt, anything is possible. Ryan Boatright had taken over the game late in 4th period and continued his domination into OT. Consider this: 35 of his 45 points were in both the 4th quarter and overtime and how's this for a stat: the junior guard made 22 of 27 free throws. The kid didn't need any ice water after the game. That's because it's already flowing through his bloodstream. Just a remarkable performance.
When the final gun sounded in the overtime and the Tomcats had completed their unlikely regional championship, the celebration was just as heated as the action on the floor:
I spoke with Boatright after he had hugged what seemed like 800 people on the Plainfield East floor. For the first time all season, he sounded like a kid, not burdened by expectations, but joyful about the game of basketball. Rightfully so after what he had just been a part of:
In the catagory of unsung heros, how about senior Tramell Weathersby? In the game of his life, the senior forward was a stud on defense, clogging the middle, getting a body on Wildcats big men Dwayne Evans and Kareem Amedu, making them uncomfortable in the paint. Weathersby did much of the dirty work inside along with Keenan McGhee, Andrew Fischer and Tom Okapal. I caught up with Weathersby in the midst of the celebration:
And finally, this is one of those special victories that should be shared by everyone: coaches, players, moms, dads, aunts, brothers. No one wanted to go home. The stars on the red carpet Sunday night in Hollywood had nothing on these Tomcats:
A night to remember, to say the least.
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