Winnetonka senior guard Carlos Paige plopped himself directly in the front row of an emotional roller coaster in the final 12 seconds of the Griffins’ game Friday at North Kansas City.
First, Paige threw the ball away — deep into the backcourt — with 12 seconds left, only to see his team get the ball back when a North Kansas City player saved the ball from going out of bounds when he didn’t have to.
The ball soon returned to Paige, and he made up for his gaffe by spinning home a layup with 3.3 seconds left to give Winnetonka a 50-48 victory.
The layup itself lasted for nearly a second as the ball breakdanced on the rim, completing one revolution before spinning on the back iron a moment longer and finally dropping through the net.
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“It felt like forever, man,” Paige said with a wide grin. “I was like, ‘Please go in. Please go in.’ I always have faith in my team. I knew they would make the right play, and I was blessed to make up for it and get us the win.”
Winnetonka, 2-0, trailed by 10 points midway through the third quarter before using its deep stable of guards to speed up the game and press the inexperienced Hornets. Senior Omar Wright led the way with 18 points. The Griffins ended the third quarter on a 9-0 run, setting the stage for a dramatic final period.
“(Assistant coach) Brett Schmitt did a great job of calling that. I’m extremely proud. It’s not exactly what we wanted at the end, but we’ll take it,” Winnetonka coach Todd Magwire said.
North Kansas City, 0-3, is both athletic and raw. The talent showed when the Hornets built their lead, just as the inexperience — as evidenced by 23 turnovers — showed when the lead slipped away.
“We just made enough unbelievably boneheaded mistakes, one after another, to keep them in the game,” Hornets coach Gerry Marlin said. “When we finally broke them down and made them throw the ball away, we somehow managed to give it back to them. We’re staying our course, which is to work these younger players, and every experience we have is going to make us better.”
North Kansas City’s Deng Bol scored a game-high 19 points, T.J. Babikir had 11 and Dillard McNeal scored 10.