Okay, your team’s playing its final game of the season. And it’s the last 29 seconds of that final game.
By Mitch Silver
Okay, your team’s playing its final game of the season. And it’s the last 29 seconds of that final game. Oh, make that the championship game of the New York State Association of Independent Schools. And you’re down by one.
What do you do?
If you’re coach Chris Wirth of Rye Country Day School, you call time out and diagram a play for one of your talented guards: either senior co-Captain and all-time leading boys’ scorer Tyler Fernandez or equally dynamic junior co-Captain Salim Green.
If you were in the stands March 1 in the Fieldston School gym, you would have seen Fernandez (with a game-high 32 points) drew just enough attention to allow Green to drive the lane and use his athleticism to get to the rim and nudge the top-seeded Wildcats up by a point over their second-seeded rivals, Berkeley Carroll, 71-70.
Okay, now what?
Now you call another timeout and set up a full-court press. And, bingo! With nine seconds left, the pressure being applied by the turbo-charged Fernandez would cause Berkeley’s star Shane Parley to lose the ball out of bounds. “He played his tail off in his last game,” first-year Wirth said of his Cornell-bound senior ace. “Tylor had an unbelievable career with us.”
With Berkeley Carroll forced to foul, Green calmly stepped to the line and drained his two free throws (making 17 for the game), forcing a desperation heave from BC that fell short as the buzzer sounded.
“I’m so proud of these guys,” their coach said afterwards. “That was such a gutsy win. This is something they will remember for the rest of their lives.”
If you were watching, you’d remember it too.