The Shot” Heard Round Conference
By DAVID BREIDENBACH
Feb 23, 2017, 15:17
Deion Stover pushes up a runner in the paint.
Jack Steele looks to pass out to the perimeter.
SOUTHAMPTON-Call it “The Shot.”
When the officials reset the game clock to two seconds and handed Jontrel Lyde the ball under the Colonial’s basket with the game tied at 52 points, Lyde knew exactly what the team wanted him to do. They wanted him to get a pass in to Deion Stover for a short jumper to win the Conference 25 Championship
game. A simple plan.
“As soon as they said we were going to have two seconds, I said ‘Hey coach listen, we’re gonna run a stretch and throw it in to Deion and he’ll make the shot,’” Brandon Smith said after the game.
That Brandon Smith, their best player, was ejected with a little over a minute left didn’t matter. That their coach John Thomas Jr. was called for a technical foul that essentially erased a 4-point lead with less than a minute to play didn’t matter. The only things that mattered were two tick on the game clock and Stover’s ability to hit the game winner.
Lyde made the pass in to Stover down low with three Indians surrounding
him. Tick. Stover lifted from floor, off balance, and fired up an eight-footer from the right block. From the left side of the court, all you could see were the backs of the white-shirted defenders. Then the basketball rose up in Stover’s right hand, a flick of the wrist, and the ball arced toward the rim.
“Did I know it was going to go in? No, I didn’t. But I always have confidence
in my shot,” Deion Stover said. “I practice it every day; right in, that’s what it always does.”
And in that second when even Stover wasn’t sure if the ball was going to go in, there was dead silence in the gym. It was a shot he practices, just in case of a game like that, but in reality, you never expect to get it. Sometimes, a shooter just knows the shot is in, from the feel, from the extension, from the muscle memory.
But this one felt a bit different. It was a best effort attempt from a player who had saved his very best efforts for the playoff run. The night before this game, he had scored 23 points and led one of the greatest comeback wins in Colonial Heights basketball history from down 20-0 against New Kent. This time it would be the buzzer beater.
Friday night, after a battle of a game with more lead changes than tire hanges at S&S garage, it came down to two seconds and one shot. The ball took a lazy arc toward the basket, and slid through the netting.
Tock. The scoreboard showed Home 52, Guest 54, and set off an explosion of Colonials from the bench. A dog pile ensued. Twenty minutes after the game was over, after the obligatory trophy award photographs, after the showers, Stover came out of the locker room still clutching the trophy. He wasn’t about to let go now.
Smith led all scorers with 22, Stover chipped in 10, and EJ Shaw had 8 for the Colonials. Darius Bell led the Indians with 14 points, Shamon Reed-Wilkerson and Kee-Sean Carr each had 13 for the Indians.
“Last time we came down here it ended identical to this, except with them getting the final shot. This time we drew the play out; we wanted Deion to get the ball,” Coach Thomas said. “We got the win. We might see Tidewater again. At least this time Tidewater will be coming to us.”
COLONIAL HEIGHTS (10-13) Smith 22, Lyde 5, Shaw 8, Meyer 2, Stover 10, Steele 3, Livesay 2, Chini 2. Totals: 21 9-15 54.
SOUTHAMPTON (17-5) Bell 14, Banks 4, Simms 2, Long 0, Clark 0, Reed-Wilkerson 13, Ruffin 0, Lankford
6, Carr 13, Cross 0, Spencer 0. Totals: 20 10-16 52.
Colonial Heights 9 11 15 19 – 54
Southampton 11 8 15 18 - 52
3-point goals — CH: Shaw 2, Lyde. SH: Reed-Wilkerson 2.