Bob Lutz: High school moments really do last forever

Heights' Ealy Bell steals the ball from Maize South's DeSean Washington (2) earlier this month.
Heights' Ealy Bell steals the ball from Maize South's DeSean Washington (2) earlier this month. The Wichita Eagle

When he’s 75 — and Heights senior basketball player Ealy Bell won’t be 75 for a long time — he will be able to pull up rock-solid evidence of what might be the greatest, or certainly the most notable and celebrated, accomplishment of his athletic life.

The memory what Bell did on Jan. 14 to win a game against Southeast will never suffer in his hazy mind or in those of the game’s participants. When Bell’s memory starts to fade, there will forever be video proof of the shot that made it to ESPN’s “SportsCenter.”

You’ve seen it by now, probably a hundred times.

Bell comes from across the lane after a missed Heights free throw to take a rebound away from a Southeast player with the game tied and less than three seconds left, throws up a prayer as he’s falling out of bounds, 25 feet from the basket.

No way he makes that shot. Except that he makes that shot.

A couple of guys capture the moment on video, including Heights team manager Titus Hayden. He’s famous at Heights for being 4-foot-11.

“It helps with the ladies,” Hayden said. “They think I’m cute.”

Hayden’s video is crystal clear and depicts the drama of the moment perfectly. He might go on to be a new generation’s Scorsese, for all I know.

Bell said he and Hayden have a business class together and that they’ve been partners for different activities.

“I guess I could say I’m kind of a big brother to him in that way,” Bell said. “Titus and me, we’re pretty close.”

And forever linked to the picture that doesn’t lie.

Not that Bell would ever have to embellish the greatness of this shot. It’s great without being propped up.

But because of the technology age in which we live, the fish that Bell caught will never get bigger.

My biggest athletic accomplishment in sports was pitching a shutout against Campus on a Saturday morning. I gave up five hits and we (Derby) won.

I don’t remember the score. Nobody filmed the game. When I tell you I shut out Campus, you have to believe me. Or not. And if you don’t, I have no way of showing you the moment. I suppose I could look for an old newspaper clipping, but the paper in Derby at the time is not around now.

Pitching a shutout, of course, is nothing like making a tremendous game-winning shot. Especially one like Bell made. He could try to re-enact that shot until he’s 75 and probably not be successful.

The point here is that Bell will never be sitting around with his buddies in 20 years, attempting to convince them that he’s the guy who made a buzzer-beating shot to win a big game against Southeast.

He’ll pop in a DVD or pull out a smart phone or whatever the techies do in 20 years.

“It’ll be a family reunion moment for the rest of my life,” Bell said. “I’ve watched that video now probably 30 or 40 times. But now I’m always trying to pick out everybody else’s reaction. I look for my dad’s reaction and everybody on the team. All of the coaches. You make a shot like that and everybody goes crazy.”

And because the moment was captured on video, people will continue to go crazy over that shot for years.

“What was amazing to us, and for an old guy like me, is how quickly something like this becomes a matter of public record,” Heights coach Joe Auer said. “I’m not an iPhone or a YouTube guy. I have an Android and I do a little texting. But I have no Facebook and I don’t tweet or do Instagram. I’m about as non-technology as they come.

“This has been an incredible learning experience for our whole team about how quickly things can spiral. For us, this spiraled in a great way. But we talk to our kids about how quickly something negative can happen, too.”

And while it was Bell who made the miraculous shot, let’s give Hayden, that ladies man, a lot of credit. He could have gotten caught up in the madness of the moment and missed the play. Or stopped filming.

But Hayden, who was filming from a perch above the Southeast gym, kept his camera still. And after the shot, he captured the celebration instead of becoming a participant.

You see Ealy and his teammates jumping up and down at the other end of the floor. You see Auer do a confused dance near the scorer’s table. You see the Heights students and fans react in amazed disbelief.

And you see the distress on the faces and in the body language of Southeast’s players.

It’s a great moment capture in some great pictures. And it will last.

Meanwhile, I really did shut out Campus in 1973. Promise.