BEAVERTON -- It’s been an impressive start to Metro League play for Sunset's boys basketball team.
Coming into Southridge on Wednesday night off back-to-back wins over Jesuit and Westview, the Apollos were 4-0 in the Metro and overflowing with confidence.
However, in a fourth quarter where the momentum swung back and forth like a pendulum, the Skyhawks -- behind two three-pointers from senior Brock Henry -- rallied from a five-point deficit in the final 15 seconds to stun Sunset 65-64.
“It’s a 32-minute game, and I wish we could take back the last 10 seconds,” Sunset coach Todd Sherwood said.
With the Apollos (12-5, 4-1) up 64-59 with 15 seconds remaining, the game looked all but over. However, Henry refused to let his team quit. With 10 seconds remaining, Henry received the inbound pass and took a contested three-pointer that swished right through the net.
Down 64-62, the Skyhawks (10-6, 3-1) still needed everything to go their way. That’s when sophomore Brett Hanna stepped up and made his most important play as a Skyhawk. As the ball was inbounded into the corner, Hanna was able to get two hands on it and force a held ball. Possession, Skyhawks.
“That play speaks to how coachable Brett is,” Southridge coach Philip Vesel said. “He’s one of those guys where you ask him to do something, he does it.
“A lot of guys would have gone and pushed him or tackled him. He follows through on the little things, and that was a game-changer for us.”
With three seconds remaining and no timeouts, the Skyhawks inbounded to Henry just inside halfcourt. He pump-faked and took two dribbles to the right before rising up and shooting. As soon as the shot went through the net, the gym exploded into a cacophony of sound.
“I knew they were going to be uptight on me and they were probably going to send two [defenders]," Henry said about his last-second shot. "I knew that I was going to have to get the ball, rip, face, and be strong. Maybe take a dribble and get an opening for my shot to go up, and that’s what I did. I threw it up and it went in.”
Said Sherwood: “One stop and the game is over. I think we played a little tentative. We talked about not fouling because fouling stops the clock and gives them an opportunity, and we ended up giving up a tough shot.”
What made the final shot so tough for Vesel was that he couldn’t talk to his team and draw up a play. He had to put his faith in the players to execute.
“It’s hard because you want to be able to call something, but they knew what I was trying to get them to do, which was get the ball to Brock,” he said. “I think that as a coach, it’s the trust you have, and the trust I have with this group is off the charts right now.”
Henry finished with a game-high 33 points.
Sunset junior Braeden Sato, fresh off a 30-point outing against the Jesuit Crusaders, led the Apollos with 12 points.
Despite starting the Metro season 4-0, it will be this missed opportunity that the Apollos rue the most.
“If you were to come and tell me that we were going to be 4-1 in Metro in October, then we would be really happy,” Sherwood said. “This one feels terrible, so it’s a little different. If we don’t let this motivate us, then we’re missing out. We’ve really got to let this drive us to get better.”
Meanwhile, the Skyhawks want to keep their positive momentum going as they host the Aloha Warriors on Friday.
“This game gives you an extra boost in confidence,” Vesel said. “The thing you got to look out for, especially with teams that are inexperienced like our group, is the letdown. We've got to recognize that our goal isn’t to get this win, our goal is to get better every day.”
And now the race for the Metro title is on. The Skyhawks vaulted into a three-way tie with Jesuit (12-5, 4-1) and Sunset for the top spot in Metro.
“This is a great win for us,” Henry said. “One of the top teams in our league --if not the top team-- and we stuck it out at home.”
Added Vesel: “What’s going on is the kids, they’re buying into all the little things we tell them to do, and it makes all the difference. They’re just going to keep playing. They didn’t quit, they kept believing. That’s what we talked about in the timeout and they executed it.”
Kyle Pinnell is a junior at Southridge