It’s been more than two years since the last Miracle on Elms Road.
Shoemaker head basketball Marc Minatrea remembers them well.
There was Devonte Brown’s 18-footer in overtime in 2010 and David Cobb’s layup in 2011 — both went against the Grey Wolves on their home court.
Finally, Shoemaker has its first buzzer-beating, game-winning shot against the Ellison Eagles in Minatrea’s seven seasons.
Shoemaker junior post Nykolas Dawson’s offensive putback at the buzzer gave the Grey Wolves a 60-58 win over the visiting 25th-ranked Eagles and a share of the District 8-5A lead with two games left.
“That might have been the best game I’ve ever been a part of,” Minatrea said.
The win was the seventh straight for the Grey Wolves (25-7, 10-2 8-5A), who are now tied with Ellison at the top of the district standings.
“We mentioned it briefly in the locker room,” Minatrea said of his team’s place in the standings. “Being in first place is nice, but all I told them is we want to be in first place next Tuesday night when we’re going from.”
Ellison (25-6, 10-2) rallied from an 11-point deficit midway through the fourth quarter to tie the game at 58-58 after Ojai Black’s two free throws with 17 seconds left.
Shoemaker senior Sean Causey missed a baseline layup, but the 6-foot-3 Dawson rebounded the ball high off the rim and gently layed it back up over the rim as the buzzer sounded to send a storm of Shoemaker players onto the court in celebration.
“I was just thinking about getting the offensive rebound and scoring; we can’t lose,” Dawson said. “I just had it in my mind.”
Dawson and Paris Yerry, who was instrumental on defense against Black, both finished with 11 for the Grey Wolves, who finish their regular season with Temple at home and at fifth-place Copperas Cove. Shane Johnson led Shoemaker with 17 points.
“Nobody thought we were going to make it. All we’re trying to do now is win the last two games,” Yerry said. “This game is over, we’ve got to go on to the next one against Temple. Then, we’ll get ready for Cove. We’ve just got to win out.”
Black led the Eagles with 21 points, but was limited to just 5-of-9 shooting from the floor. He was 11-of-11 at the free-throw line and had seven assists.
“It’s tough. I’d rather lose by 20 than lose like that,” Black said. “We fought hard to come back in the fourth quarter. We did everything we needed to do to get back in the game, got a couple of steals. It’s hard to lose that way.”
Ellison was perfect from the line, hitting all 13 of its free throw attempts, but was outscored 18-10 by the Grey Wolves in the third quarter. Shoemaker, which trailed 28-26 at halftime, used an 11-4 run in the first half of the quarter to take a 37-32 lead after a free throw by Yerry with 4:11 left. Following a dunk by Fred Jackson off an assist from Black, the Grey Wolves outscored Ellison 10-4 in the final 1:38 of the third and first 17 seconds of the fourth for a 47-38 lead.
The Eagles cut that to five, but Dawson scored on easy layups and Renard Thomas added another to give the Grey Wolves a 53-42 lead with 3:26 to go.
Black scored nine of the Eagles’ final 16 points and assisted the three field goals scored by his teammates in the final 3:12.
Thomas Larry scored 12 for the Eagles and Malik Hawkins hit two 3-pointers and finished with 10.
“I thought we played hard the whole game; I thought they played hard the whole game. It was tied with one second left, what can you say?” Minatrea said.
“I’ll remind (Ellison head) coach (Alberto) Jones tomorrow we still owe him one more buzzer-beater in the future.”