Sunnyslope High School boys basketball team’s five game winning streak was halted by McClintock with a last second buzzer-beater Friday night as the Chargers came out on top, 56-55.
The score stayed close throughout the game and both teams took turns taking the lead. At half-time, McClintock trailed Sunnyslope by just one point, 28-29. At the beginning of the fourth quarter, Sunnyslope trailed McClintock by just one point, 42-41.
With 8.5 seconds left in the game, McClintock was down 54-52 when McClintock’s leading scorer, Josh Baker, who is averaging 21 points a game, drew a foul on a three-point attempt.
He drained the first, 53-54, then made the second, 54-54.
On the third free throw, the ball rolls around the rim and off the side. Sunnyslope recovered the rebound and McClintock head coach Sam Dentz could be heard yelling to draw the foul to stop the clock.
Sunnyslope starter, Kyle Fischer, stepped up to the foul line for two free throw attempts. He made the first, but missed the second. Sunnyslope led 55-54 with just a few seconds left on the clock.
McClintock inbounded the ball and drove it down the court. The ball found Baker’s hands, he drove through the lane and rolled in the fall layup as the buzzer sounded, sending McClintock home with the victory.
The McClintock team and fans rushed the court to celebrate beating the number one team in the state.
“Oh man, we were excited. So happy,” Baker described the locker room energy, “We’re just living in the moment.”
Before the game, Coach Dentz said their biggest obstacle would be overcoming Sunnyslope’s stellar defense.
“It didn’t surprise me at all, they played tough hard defense,” Dentz said, “This was probably the best that we’ve been able to score on them because we had some guys, Armani Williams, who were making some shots for us in the first half so that kind of loosened us up and gets us flowing.”
Williams made four three-pointers in the first half, finishing the game with 15 points. Baker finished the game with 16 points.
“At the end of the game, we got the ball to our best player and let him go to work,” Dentz said, “He made a special play for us.”
As the defending state champs, Sunnyslope head coach Ray Portela says there’s no room to let up.
“We’ve got a bullseye on our back and people play hard against us and there are times our guys step on the floor and think it’s going to be a cake-walk,” Portela said, “We’ve got to realize that it’s not going to be that. Every night we have to bring our A-game.”
For McClintock, this win puts them one step closer to securing a top eight seed in playoffs.
“They’re the number one team and we’re 13 so this game is going to boost us three, four, maybe five spots,” Baker said, “That’s going to give us a first-round bye and maybe host a home game for the playoffs.”
McClintock was knocked out of the playoffs in the first-round by Sunnyslope, but tonight the team is celebrating their long-a-waited redemption win.
“The boys were very fired up. I can’t remember the last time McClintock has beaten a number one team in the state, but it’s been a while,” Dentz said, “Huge moment for our program and kids.”
Sunnyslope’s next game will be at Apollo High School on Tuesday while McClintock will be facing off against Maricopa High School.