Jalen Love announced his own spoiler alert, but nobody stopped watching.
The East senior guard waved off coach Ron Allen, first as Allen attempted to call a timeout in the final seconds against North on Tuesday, then again before Allen could call a play. Love told his coach, "I got it. I got it."
Then Love got it.
He scissored through a defender and two teammates setting screens, drove to his left from near halfcourt to the top of the key and swished a deep two-pointer at the buzzer, giving East a 50-48 win.
Love's pronouncement took some of the suspense out of the final shot — his ultra-confidence caused the shot to lose a bit of the surprise factor — but none of the excitement. East's students were sent into a frenzy as Love raced to the opposite end of the court nodding his head as teammates mobbed him.
"I want it all on me," Love said. "If we win, it's on me. If we lose, it's on me."
North's Conner Frankamp, who scored a game-high 25 points, tied it 48-48 with a pull-up jump shot near the free-throw line with 40 seconds to go.
Allen appeared to be calling for a timeout, but Love immediately rejected the idea, then did the same when Allen attempted to set up the offense.
Love didn't start moving toward the basket until there were about five seconds to go. He called for a screen, got one on both sides from JJ Normore and Larry Dennis and found a lane to drive, pulling up just inside the three-point line.
"I trust him," Allen said. "His mind was made up and he has gutted it out. What I was going to do was set up a pick-and-roll for him, anyway. But the flow of the game was going and I didn't want to stop it. I trust him. If he's got it, I let him go."
Love was in a game of one-upsmanship with Frankamp, his friend and teammate on the AAU level. Love seemed to want the ball in his hands during all of the important moments, of which there were plenty in a back-and forth contest.
The plan Love executed in the final seconds was so flawless that it seemed he must have contrived it much sooner. But even in a game that was close throughout, Love scarcely envisioned producing something dramatic.
"I'm not going to lie, I didn't know I was going to take the last shot," Love said. "I didn't know the ball was going to be in my hands. My teammates had the confidence in me to take the shot. I shot it, and thank God it went in."
Frankamp was delivering many clutch plays, scoring seven of North's nine points in the fourth quarter and finding Sean Bernard in the paint for four assists in the third, when East turned up its defense on Frankamp.
Love and Frankamp engaged in friendly banter during the game, and Frankamp described the loss as somewhat bittersweet.
"Jalen's a great player," Frankamp said. "That was a big-time shot he hit. If anybody else, I'd want him to hit the shot, I think, because we're great friends."
Love guarded Frankamp for much of the game, but became so intense during the third quarter than Allen benched him until Love relaxed.
"He gets so competitive that it winds him up too tight," Allen said. "I set him down until I could hear the tone in his voice: 'Coach, I'm ready to go back in now.' That's when I put him back in because I knew he was calmed down."
Love didn't sit again, managing to keep East's offense running smoothly while drawing a difficult defensive assignment. He was nothing but calm in the final moments, relishing his opportunity to deliver in his first clutch moment as East's go-to player.
North (1-3, 1-3) 16 13 10 9 — 48 East (4-0, 3-0) 16 13 11 10 — 50
NORTH: Beard 1 0-0 2, Williams 1 0-0 3, Shockley 2 0-0 4, Bernard 5 2-3 12, Frankamp 9 5-6 25, Urban 0 0-0 0, Henderson 0 0-0 0, Kinder 0 0-0 0, Elliott 1 0-1 2. Totals 19 (3) 7-10 48.
EAST: Burris 4 0-0 9, Love 6 1-2 15, Jackson 4 2-2 12, Brandon 0 1-2 1, Dennis 2 1-3 5, Terrell 1 0-1 2, Normore 2 2-3 6, Griffin 0 0-0 0, Hester 0 0-0 0. Totals 19 (5) 7-13 50.