PHOTO: Point guard senior Joey Asta heads to the net, pushing Cosumnes Oak defender to the side.
By Charissa Zeigler,
With 21.4 seconds left in the fourth quarter of the varsity men’s basketball game between the Cosumes High Wolfpack and the Davis High Blue Devils at Davis High’s Break the Record Night on Jan. 31, the Blue Devils wrested the ball from Cosumnes Oaks and swung back to score.
Coach Dan Gonzalez called a timeout as the scoreboard paused ominously with the Blue Devils behind a point. The team huddled, formulating a strategy underneath the incessant pounding of pep-band’s drumming.
Taking the floor with possession of the ball, senior Joey Asta drew a foul. His first free-throw splashed through the net, frustrating the siren shrill of Cosumnes Oaks’ section of the crowd’s attempt to distract Asta. Asta was rewarded a second shot, which he drained as well, giving the Devils the lead, 70-69, with seven seconds remaining.
The Blue Devil defenders sprinted back, trying to maintain their lead. However, with 0.4 seconds left, the back-court referee blew the whistle, signaling the Wolfpack’s point guard, senior Malakai Hartman, drawn foul.
The whistle sunk through the auditorium, as victory was on a precipice as the Cosumnes player steadied the ball before burying his first free throw.
The game was tied.
After one final timeout by Gonzalez, the Wolfpack’s Hartman bounced the ball before sending it slinking up into the air and relentlessly down into the net. A collective groan hailed from the bleachers as the score tilted back in favor of Cosumnes Oaks, 71-70.
With one last slimmer of hope, the crowd was on their feet, peering over the head of the person in front of them as senior Cody Taylor chucked the in-bounds across the court to junior Isaiah Conlan, who needed to shoot in less than one second.
Conlan nailed the last bucket through a determined haze despite the improbability of victory and a blaring buzzer, however, the scoreboard was unmoved.
The final score was 71-70. Cosumnes Oaks won.
Coach Gonzalez reflected on the game. “We have to simulate [last second games],” Gonzalez said. He also mentioned that the team needed to practice making free throws under pressure, although Asta clutched up to give his team the lead before the loss.
However, Gonzalez also noted the difference between the first game against Cosumnes Oaks and this one. “They’ve learned to play with each other,” Gonzalez said.
To the team, the first half of the game was payback for their 80-66 loss on Jan. 8 to the Wolfpack. The Blue Devils’ aggressive defense tactics, tricky passing maneuvers and multiple second-chance shots appeared to have the Wolfpack winded.
However, the Wolfpack returned confidently in the second half, inching into the Blue Devils’ lead and ultimately winning the game.
Last second disappointment is nothing new for the Blue Devils. This was the “third game lost in the final moments […] the second in a row,“ senior Joey Voss said.
Even so, Voss’s spirits were not dampened and he went on to praise the team’s effort. Voss also noted that Cosumnes Oaks has “a really good [point] guard.”
For the next game, Gonzalez is undaunted. “My guys know I believe in them,” Gonzalez said.