Bryan’s Dominic Caldwell had about as much time to dribble nearly 60 feet as it takes for one of his high-arcing 3-pointers to find the bottom of the net. And just like when he releases a 3-pointer, he believed he could do it.
With the score tied at 70 and Cypress Springs holding the ball, the Vikings’ Xavier Duren and Tereus Henderson trapped Anas Rombok on the Panthers side of midcourt, which ignited a mad scramble for a loose ball. Caldwell ended up with it, darted to the basket and beat the buzzer by less than a second with a layup to give the Vikings a 72-70 victory on Friday in District 14-6A boys basketball play at Viking Gym.
“I was away from the ball, and he stole it, gave it to me and I had to make the layup,” Caldwell said. “When I saw the ball, I knew there was a few seconds and I knew I had to be quick. I just hoped I’d make it, and I made it. I knew I had the time and had confidence in myself.”
Henderson set up the last-second drama with a drive and left-handed layup to tie the game with 13 seconds remaining.
“I asked the guys, do you guys want to go for it or do you want to go into overtime?” Bryan coach Jonathan Hines said of the conversation during the ensuing timeout. “They said let’s go for it, so we called one of our trap calls. We gambled. We were going for the win, and it paid off. Right when we picked it up, I looked at the clock in case I wanted to call a timeout, and I saw three seconds, and I was pretty confident [Caldwell] had the ability to get there in that amount of time.”
For the longest time it appeared as if the Vikings (10-11, 2-4) wouldn’t have an opportunity to win the game at the buzzer. The Viking trailed by 10 or more points a majority of the first three quarters, and after Cy-Springs’ Jaylon Wilson converted a steal into a layup on the opening possession of the fourth quarter, the Panthers (10-12, 2-4) led 57-45.
Bryan then scored eight points in 45 seconds and 14 straight points overall to take its first lead at 59-57.
Dylan Glover started the run with his only basket of the game. He then found Henderson for a layup. Henderson was fouled on the play and missed the free throw, but Rodney Johnson grabbed the rebound and put it back for two more Bryan points. Henderson converted a steal into a layup, prompting a Panther timeout. The Vikings forced a backcourt violation, and Caldwell, who had a game-high 22 points, hit one of his five 3-pointers. JD Smith finished the run with a 3-pointer set up by a Glover steal.
“The kids really played hard in the fourth quarter,” Hines said. “Truthfully we stunk it up in the first half. There is no denying that. We weren’t there mentally and didn’t execute anything. Then they focused, locked in and executed really well defensively, which led to good quality offensive shots which allowed us to come back.”
The game started two hours before originally scheduled because of the threat of bad weather, and it appeared as if the Vikings didn’t get the memo. The Panthers scored the first nine points, seven by Wilson. Henderson stopped the nearly three-minute run with a basket, but it didn’t slow down the Panthers, who finished the first quarter with a 6-2 run for a 23-11 lead.
The Vikings started showing some life to open the second half. Caldwell drew a foul while shooting a 3 and made all three free throws. He made it six points in 35 seconds with another 3, which he set up with a steal. Johnson added a 3-pointer a few minutes later. Caldwell then hit a 3 from the corner on an inbound pass, and Henderson scored on a fastbreak from Smith to draw Bryan within 53-45.
“[Caldwell] practices those shots,” Hines said. “He’s one of the guys if he’s contested I’m not worried. He lives in the gym and shoots a lot and has gotten tremendously better, not only from last year but from day one in August to now.”
Henderson finished with 18 points, and Johnson had 15 points and a team-high six rebounds.
“I’ve been telling the guys we are just a few possessions away from being really good,” Hines said. “We’ve lost an overtime game to Cy-Lakes, lost on a foul at the buzzer against Bridgeland and the other day lost by three to Cy-Park on a turnover. I keep telling the guys to buy in, that those one-possession games are going to go your way. We just have to execute at the end of the ball game, and today we did.”
Cy-Springs’ Davon Wright made 12 of 13 free throws, including two to put the Panthers up 70-68 with 33 seconds remaining, and finished with a team-high 20 points. Wilson, who got in early foul trouble, had 19 points, including 12 in the first quarter.
Bryan 72, Cypress Springs 70
(Numbers after names indicate field goals made, free throws made-attempted, fouls, points.)
CYPRESS SPRINGS (10-12, 2-4) — Anas Rombok 0 0-0 1 0; Davon Wright 4 12-13 2 20; Chris Poole 2 0-0 1 6; Jaylon Wilson 8 1-2 3 19; Enzi Mattar 0 0-0 1 0; Quartez Brooks 1 2-2 1 4; Cristian Green 0 0-0 2 0; JT Steward 5 1-4 2 12; Rashad Lago 2 3-4 2 7; Jaydon Nunn 1 0-0 3 2. TOTALS: 23 19-25 18 70
BRYAN (10-11, 2-4) — JD Smith 1 0-0 2 3; Umber Christian 1 0-0 3 2; Xavier Duren 1 0-0 2 2; Rodney Johnson 7 0-1 2 15; Camden Gray 1 0-0 1 3; Tereus Henderson 8 2-5 1 18; Dominic Caldwell 7 2-3 0 22; Dylan Glover 1 1-3 3 3; Aleks Kalaouze 0 0-0 0 0; Victor Grear 0 4-4 1 4. TOTALS: 27 10-16 15 72
Cypress Springs 23 14 18 13 — 70
Bryan 11 14 20 27 — 72