Written by Corbett Smith
'Something you dream about as a kid:' 3 Dallas-area boys basketball players sink game-winning baskets as time expires
It’s a shot practiced in backyards, driveways and empty gyms, but hardly exists outside of fantasy.
“It’s like something you dream about as a kid,” Jesuit guard Brocke Stepteau said.
The clock is winding down and, with ball in hand, the opportunity presents itself.
“You always imagine yourself making those big shots,” Trophy Club Byron Nelson guard Keyunta Watkins said. “And it’s always in certain games, like the playoffs or for the championship.”
Three, two, one … pandemonium.
“I actually didn’t believe it when it went in,” Richardson guard Nylan Yancy said. “It was like someone else had shot it. It didn’t seem real.”
The dream became reality for Stepteau, Watkins and Yancy last Friday, as all three made buzzer-beating shots to keep their teams alive in the UIL playoffs.
Stepteau hit an off-balance 3-pointer as time expired to help Jesuit beat Garland Lakeview, 61-60. The junior was the original target in Jesuit’s last-second play, designed to come off a hard pick-and-roll, and “make a play.” But it was guarded well by Lakeview, as the defender slid off the pick to prevent the pass, then closed to prevent an open shot. After passing quickly to another teammate, Stepteau found the ball back in his hands — with little time to spare.
“I threw it up there,” he said. “It wasn’t a proper shot. I knew I had to get it off quick.”
Fading away, 3 feet behind the 3-point line, Stepteau drained the shot, and was swarmed by the crowd.
Watkins’ shot wasn’t as desperate but was every bit as impressive. Already the game’s leading scorer with 20 points in a 45-45 deadlock with Waco University, Watkins had to work himself free to receive the inbounds pass. With nine seconds remaining, University attempted to force the ball from his hands, trying to trap him twice. A nifty, between-the-legs dribble split the second trap, and Watkins raced down the court with his left hand, attacking the rim with a right-handed layup over a much taller defender.
“At first, I thought he was going to block it,” the 5-8 guard said.
Of the three baskets, Yancy’s was the most improbable. With his team trailing Mesquite by one with a 1.5 seconds remaining, the junior guard grabbed a rebound off a missed free throw. Unguarded, he took two dribbles and — still nearly 10 feet behind the half-court line — flung a shot at the basket as the buzzer sounded.
The shot banked in. “So crazy, it was almost laughable,” Yancy said.
“I was in shock, first,” he said. “But to add insult to injury, our fan base tackled me, and I ended up on the bottom of a dog pile. I don’t really remember much after that. I kind of blacked out a little bit. My teammates told me that my eyes rolled into the back of my head.”
The attention still hasn’t abated for the three players. Stepteau said he received a few standing ovations upon entering class Monday. Yancy and Stepteau added scores of followers on Twitter.
“It’s been insane,” Yancy said. “I mean, just a ton of people are coming up to me to congratulate me that I don’t really know.”
All three players hope that the shots will spark extended playoff runs. Regardless, they were shots they will never forget.
“It’s was totally unique,” Watkins said of being carried from the court in celebration. “You’ve just got to love it in the moment. And for it to happen to me, it’s probably one of the best moments of my life.”
Follow Corbett Smith on Twitter at @corbettsmithDMN.
Bids for regional tournaments are up for grabs Tuesday, as teams face off in the third round of the UIL boys basketball playoffs. Here are some doubleheaders of note:
Fort Worth’s Wilkerson-Greines Activity Center Athletic Complex
DeSoto (33-2) vs. Hebron (34-2), 6:30 p.m.: It’s a matchup between the state’s No. 1 and No. 2-ranked 5A teams. But, if prior results are an indication, there’s a definite favorite. No. 1 DeSoto cruised to a 82-59 win over Hebron in the quarterfinals of the McDonald’s Texas Invitational in November. Duke signee Matt Jones has picked up his scoring in the playoffs, averaging 20 points in two playoff wins. Hebron needed a big second half by Cal Poly signee Ridge Shipley in an overtime win over Cedar Hill in the area round.
North Crowley (28-7) vs. Arlington Bowie (25-10), 8 p.m.: This is the third meeting between the District 3-5A rivals, with North Crowley winning both earlier matchups. The games were close: a 67-62 win on Jan. 4, and a 71-70 win on Jan. 29, where Jalan McCloud made two free throws with 1.2 seconds remaining. McCloud leads a deep North Crowley roster, averaging 16.6 points per game. Bowie shooting guard Jeremy Senglin, a Weber State signee, is one of the area’s top scorers, averaging more than 19 points per game.
Ellis Davis Field House
West Mesquite (25-9) vs. Woodrow Wilson (25-7), 6 p.m.: The No. 2 seed from 10-4A, West
Mesquite is the only team still standing from its district. Woodrow Wilson, the runner-up to Lincoln in District 12-4A, escaped the area round with a 74-71, double-overtime win over Little Elm. This game features one of the best guard matchups around: West Mesquite’s
Braylon Rayson (Central Michigan signee) vs. Woodrow Wilson’s Trey Washington (Wyoming). Woodrow Wilson forward Zach Coleman (Massachusetts signee) is tough to guard in the post, averaging double digits in points and rebounds.
Lincoln (28-6) vs. Kimball (19-9), 7:30 p.m.: Two of Dallas ISD’s most storied programs square off. Kimball, the two-time defending 4A state champion, looks as if it has found its stride after early struggles. Senior guard Keith Frazier, one of the state’s best shooters, has been unstoppable in the first two rounds, scoring 50 points. With Frazier, Kimball can put three scorers 6-5 or taller on the court, with 6-6 forwards D’Angelo Allen and Trent Brinkley. The regional quarterfinals haven’t been kind for Lincoln since it last made the state tournament in 2004, with five of its last eight playoff defeats in this round. Twins Erick and Derrick Neal make for a dynamic backcourt, while forwards Mark Johnson and Emmanuel Porter are a tad undersized, but athletic.