East Boston senior guard Pat Santos hit an ESPN-worthy full-court buzzer beater to defeat host No. 15 Madison Park, 43-42, Tuesday night.
“I just got it and shot it, there wasn’t even enough time to think; just get the ball and shoot that’s all,” said Santos, who finished the game with only 4 points.
The last-second heroics came after Madison Park junior guard Johnny Bowden was fouled shooting a 3-pointer with 1 second left in the game. Bowden hit the first two foul shots to go up 42-40 before he seemingly missed the final foul shot intentionally.
Santos rebounded the miss along the left baseline, where he launched his winning Hail Mary.
“You can’t get off a shot in one second,” Madison Park coach Dennis Wilson said. “You catch the ball and turn and throw a long shot; you can’t do that in one second.”
Led by senior forward David Stewart’s game-high 15 points, Madison Park (1-1) went on an 8-2 run to take a 40-39 lead with 1:24 left. East Boston sophomore forward Rasheed Bell (13 points) hit a free throw to tie the game at 40 before Bowden was fouled on the 3-point line by senior Will March in the final second.
The win was only the fourth ever for first-year head coach Shawn Brown, whose team improved to 4-0.
“I’m looking at my senior [March]; it’s tough, it’s like ‘How do you make that foul,’” Brown, 37, said of the moments before the victory. “Just the highs and lows, the emotions of the game, and this is just the start. I’m young, I think I’m built for it, so we’ll see.”
After No. 18 East Boston scored the first 10 points of the game, Madison Park didn’t score its first basket until the 1:43 mark of the first quarter. The Cardinals trailed, 19-16, at the half and didn’t take their first lead of the game until they went up 30-29 with 39 seconds left in the third quarter.
But after Madison Park took a 32-29 lead into the final quarter, East Boston scored the first 8 points of the fourth to go up 37-32 with 5:28 left in the game. With 1:24 left in the game, Madison Park junior guard Jaylen Bell scored a transition layup to put his team up 40-39 before Bell tied the game for the Jets by splitting a pair of free throws with 12 seconds left.
“We did not play a great game but we should’ve won the game,” Wilson said. “We did everything, I’m so proud of my little guys, little Johnny [Bowden[ and Jaylen Bell, they played like warriors, they played with MP pride.
“I mean an 80-foot shot, I mean come on.”
Terrell Matthews also chipped in 11 points for Madison Park.
The loss stung even worse for the Cardinals because they lost at the buzzer to East Boston in last winter’s city championships, which were also held at Madison Park.
“This place is always crazy, there’s not one time I played here it wasn’t crazy,” Santos said.
After being mobbed by fans and teammates Santos said Tuesday night was by far the craziest.
“I don’t think even playing around, [taking it] 100 times, I could hit that shot right there,” he said.
Even Brown — who as a player for Charlestown in 1994 hit a buzzer beater to beat East Boston in a playoff-clinching victory — said he’s never seen anything like it.
“You see it on ESPN but you never see anything [like that in person], that was an amazing shot,” Brown said. “I looked up and I just watched the ball. But Pat’s a gutsy kid. And if someone is going to take that shot he is going to take it. He has it in him to take the shot.
“I wasn’t surprised it was Pat.”
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