Deep down, Olathe East senior Javion Blake knows he had no business — absolutely none — drilling the buzzer-beating three-pointer that propelled the Hawks to a 54-51 road victory over rival Olathe North on Friday.
Picture, if you will, the moment the shot was released.
Blake, who finished with a game-high 25 points, was a good foot behind the arc at the top of the key when he jumped. He was falling back because it was the only direction he could go. He was leaning back because the hands of two Olathe North defenders were in his face.
Nope, it wasn’t textbook. But for the Hawks, 11-5, it was a thing of beauty.
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“That wasn’t the play, but it went in,” Blake said with a smile. “Coach (Jim Super) told me to get to the lane and try to draw some contact and get to the line. I just threw something up and hoped for the foul. I didn’t think it was going to go all net, but that’s how it goes sometimes.”
Olathe North closed the lane because Blake spent most of the night driving down it on the way to layups.
There were times when a well-placed assist helped Blake down the lane. There were others when he drove to the rim with moves sweet enough to get a response from both sides of the gym.
That’s why the Eagles, 13-3, weren’t about to get beat that way with the game on the line.
Olathe North coach Jeff Walton was thrilled with his team’s defense on the final possession, but that cliché about big-time players and big-time shots in big games is a cliché for a reason.
“When it left his hands I was watching the arc (of the ball) and I thought it might fall just a tad short,” Walton said. “But then that thing splashed and my heart went into my back pocket. He was a play maker all night. When you’re a kid shooting baskets on a driveway when you’re 8, you dream of that moment. He got to live it with a huge stage between two rival schools.”
Olathe North got 14 points from R.J. Smith and 13 from Alonzo Williams. The Eagles were without the services of junior starter Danny Baker, who missed the game after suffering a concussion in a game earlier in the week.
The shot also gave Blake a moment of redemption after being called for a technical foul with 2:07 in the game for dunking after a foul was called in the Olathe East backcourt.
Williams made both free throws, which helped contribute to the game being tied in the final minute.
“I told myself when I got that technical that I had to do something to get my team back in this game,” Blake said. “I didn’t let it get to me. My players told me not to let it get to me and my coaches had faith in me.”
The game featured six ties and 17 lead changes. The last lead change is the one both sides of this rivalry will remember for a while.
“I didn’t know what else to do, so I just shot it and it went in,” Blake said.
Sometimes that’s all it takes.