This is what Rob Williams does when the 5A-I state basketball tournament begins.
Last year it was his running 30-foot, 3-pointer as time expired that helped Chandler upset No. 1 seed Highland in the first round.
Thursday, it was his 3-pointer with 12 seconds remaining that gave the No. 8 seed Wolves a 51-50 victory over No. 9 seed Red Mountain in the first round of this year’s tournament.
“Big players make big plays in big games,” Williams said.
The host Wolves trailed for much of the fourth quarter, but never by more than four points. With 25 seconds left, Red Mountain’s Jordan McDougald made one of two free throws to put the Lions ahead 50-48.
Chandler then worked the basketball around the Red Mountain defense and when Williams, who scored 10 points, got the ball just left of the top of the key he drilled the 3-pointer. “It was a little deep, but I felt it. I knew it was going to go in,” Williams said. “I had the faith. I think everybody else was holding their breath.”
Red Mountain (21-11) still had a chance to win the game in the final 10 seconds. After a timeout, Paul Newendyke took the inbounds pass and rushed toward the Lions’ basket. With Chandler players swiping at the basketball most of the way, Newendyke lost control near the foul line and was tied up by one of the Wolves’ players. The possession arrow gave Chandler the basketball and, after one Red Mountain foul, the Wolves ran out the clock.
Newendyke led all scorers with 16 points with teammate Jeff Bunker scoring 12.
Chandler (19-11) led by as many as 10 points in the first half and was up 26-16 with 4:20 left in the second quarter. It was Jason Edwards doing most of the scoring, and the senior guard finished with 12 points for Chandler. Preston Hall added 10.
Led by McDougald’s six points, Red Mountain closed out the half with an 11-4 scoring run to get within 30-27 at the half.
Chandler coach Mike Ellsworth then completely changed what was a fairly fast-paced game. The Wolves spent the first four minutes of the second half sitting on the basketball.
Red Mountain outscored Chandler 7-2 to open the fourth quarter and led, 40-36, with six minutes to play.