Like so many teenage basketball players, Ealy Bell has watched just about every crazy game-winning shot that has been uploaded to YouTube or sent in to SportsCenter.
He might be watching his own shot after Tuesday night.
Bell offered up his own version of a Top-10 play when a last-second, potential game-winning free throw by teammate Semaj Hervey clanged off the rim with 2.8 seconds left and hurtled toward the sideline.
A Southeast player appeared to track down the ball, but Bell poked it loose, caught it, spun, and released a three-pointer all in one motion. The ball kissed off the backboard and into the net as the buzzer sounded, giving Heights a crucial 65-62 victory over Southeast to improve to 8-1 and remain within a game of East for the City League lead.
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“I practice trick shots all the time,” Bell said. “Fading away, just throwing it up there is no problem for me. I saw the backboard when I turned and that’s all I needed.”
It capped a Heights comeback that had to be seen to be believed.
The Falcons went from trailing 59-54 with just over a minute remaining to taking a 61-59 lead in a 35-second span that included four turnovers by Southeast.
It was such a quick collapse that Southeast coach Melvin Herring never had a chance to call a timeout to settle his team. Instead, Tre King and Hervey came up with back-to-back strips within seconds that led directly to run-outs and easy scores for Heights.
“We were just loose with the basketball,” Herring said. “We weren’t gripping it and squeezing it and holding onto it like we should have.”
But Southeast proved resilient, making 1 of 2 free throws, producing a stop, and then regaining the lead, 62-61, with 7.1 seconds left on two foul shots by EJ Garnes. A traveling violation even gave the Buffaloes the ball with six seconds left and the 1-point lead.
On a side in-bounds play, Southeast lofted the pass toward Garnes but floated it too high and Hervey was able to snatch the ball for the steal. Compounding the mistake, Southeast fouled Hervey seconds later to send him to the free-throw line with 2.8 seconds left.
Hervey swished the first shot to tie the game, but missed the second and Bell came from across the free-throw lane to jar the ball loose from Southeast and give himself a chance for the final shot.
“Our kids came up with their best effort of the night in the most important moments of the night,” Heights coach Joe Auer said. “That’s what great teams do.”
After the shot banked in, Bell, who missed two free throws earlier in the season that could have potentially beaten East, felt redemption. He said after the game it was his first game-winning shot of his career.
“And the crazy thing about it,” Hervey said, “is that Ealy was practicing that turnaround, fadeaway shot all week.”
And how many times was he successful in practice?
Hervey let out a rare smile before saying, “He hit it every single time.”
HEIGHTS: Hervey 5 1-3 12, Bell 5 3-5 14, Gill 4 1-3 9, Johnson 2 0-0 4, Ellis 1 0-0 2, Wilbeck 2 0-0 6, Lowe 5 0-0 11, King 3 0-0 7.
SOUTHEAST: Garnes 2 5-6 10, Franklin 0 0-0 0, Harding 5 1-2 14, Loudermilk 3 2-2 8, Love 0 1-2 1, Oyugi 6 1-1 13, Murdock 3 6-9 13, Payne 1 0-0 3.