At the end of almost every quarter of a basketball game, whichever player is holding onto the ball in the final seconds will throw up a shot from wherever he or she happens to be at the time.
Those shots are seldom expected to go in, especially when they’re coming from the other end of the court; even being near the target with a desperation launch is enough to elicit a reaction from the crowd.
Every so often, though, one will go in — and few moments in basketball are more memorable.
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Trayce Jackson-Davis likely won’t forget his buzzer-beating heave anytime soon. The Center Grove junior banked one in from about 65 feet at Lawrence North on Jan. 26, lifting the Trojans to a 48-45 victory in the most dramatic fashion imaginable.
“Just crazy,” Jackson-Davis said of his miraculous game-winner. “Crazy, crazy, crazy. Just give it a chance, and that’s what I did, and I saw it starting to line up and it just so happened it went in.”
“It was a big-time shot in a big-time moment, and one that we desperately needed,” Center Grove coach Zach Hahn added. “Because we had given away a couple of leads a couple of weeks before that, and then we come back and we were up 10 against (Lawrence North), the lead whittles away and then we make the shot to bury it.
“Really good things happen when you get the ball to your best player.”
While Jackson-Davis’ shot garnered the most attention because it was the winning basket in a high-profile contest, similar tosses have been falling with greater frequency than usual of late. Edinburgh junior Bryce Burton sank a one-hander off the backboard from nearly 80 feet away to beat the halftime horn in a Feb. 9 home game against Greenwood Christian, and Indian Creek was burned by a similar second-quarter miracle from Madison’s Landon Conner four nights later.
“The funny thing is, you could probably take the whole team down there for two hours at practice and nobody would make one,” Indian Creek coach Drew Glentzer said.
The Jackson-Davis shot helped Center Grove escape Lawrence North with a victory despite letting a late nine-point lead slip away. The host Wildcats used a 14-2 run to take the lead, but Spencer Piercefield hit a 3-pointer to tie the game with 15.9 seconds left.
After Lawrence North missed two potential go-ahead shots with time running out, Jackson-Davis came away with a rebound, dribbled once to clear the traffic and fired from just outside the foul line, banking it off the glass and in as the clock hit zero.
Jackson-Davis ran over to the Trojans bench area, where he was mobbed by teammates — and Hahn, who may have been even more excited than his players were in the moment.
“My first thought was to tackle him to the ground, and that’s what I did,” Hahn said. “I think I was the first one on him.
The reaction was far more muted for Burton’s shot — largely because the Lancers were trailing at the time.
Even Burton himself didn’t let himself celebrate the moment.
“As I threw it, I was just so mad that we were getting beat at the time that I just threw it up,” the junior recalled. “I watched it go in, and then I turned around. The only person I made eye contact with was my little cousin — she was just cheesing ear to ear at me, and I did not crack a smile.
“And then once I got up the stairs, our assistant athletic director was standing here, Brad Rooks. He was dying laughing, and that’s when I cracked a smile and just started laughing with him. It was just a good feeling.”
The good feeling didn’t last; despite the momentary lift from Burton’s shot, the Lancers wound up losing to GCA, 81-69.
For the teams getting victimized by such shots, it can be demoralizing — a “chin to chest” moment, as Glentzer called it.
His Braves had just gotten a bucket from Jared DeHart to get within eight points with 1.3 seconds left in the half before Conner connected on a one-handed baseball toss to reclaim the momentum for Madison.
The Cubs had already made several 3-pointers in the first half, so Glentzer said he almost wasn’t surprised to see that one fall.
“They had shot the ball so well that I was like, ‘Well of course they’re going to hit this,’” he said.
Burton said he attempts halfcourt shots when he’s switching ends during pregame shootarounds, but he isn’t sure he’s even made many of those — never mind one from that distance.
Coaches aren’t exactly devoting practice time to such shots, so for most players it’s just a matter of getting lucky.
“It’s nothing we put any kind of emphasis on to get better at,” Edinburgh coach Keith Witty said.
Like Burton, Jackson-Davis said his “practice” when it comes to long-range shots is mainly limited to a midcourt try or two during shootaround, so it’s not a very high percentage shot for either of them.
Hahn notes, however, that his 6-foot-9 star is better equipped physically than most to make those shots.
“He’s got the strength to get it there, but he’s also got big enough hands that he can put the ball exactly where he wants it,” Hahn said.
It doesn’t work every time, but it leaves a pretty sizable imprint when it does.