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Unforgettable was incredible

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By Josh Cook

Incredible. Improbable. Implausible. Incomparable.

Ever since Tuesday night’s 8thRegion Tournament first-round game between the Collins and South Oldham boys’ basketball teams, which the Dragons won, 85-82, in overtime, I’ve been trying to come up with the proper words to describe it.

The best answer is probably that there aren’t enough apt terms to do that, or to even do it justice.

Last week on my blog I called the Collins girls’ team’s double-overtime victory over Shelby County in the 30thDistrict Tournament semifinals an “instant classic.” So with that being said I’m not exactly sure how to characterize the breathtaking battle between the Dragons and the Titans. Maybe I should call it an instant, instant classic or an instantaneous classic.

Not only did the game feature an unbelievable fourth-quarter comeback by Collins, which trailed by 21 points early in the period, but that remarkable rally was highlighted by Buddy Johnson’s buzzer-beating, stick-back (which for now I’m calling the Immaculate Putback) of Ralphie Stone’s missed free throw with five-tenths of a second left.

First let us talk for a moment about the impossibility of the basket given the time constraints. There is virtually no way for Stone’s missed free throw to be touched – “I think I got a hand on it,” Collins senior forward Dez Marshall told me Wednesday night – caught underneath the basket by Johnson, then put back up off the backboard in half a second.

However as Shelby County Coach Jason Couch and the rest of the Rockets can attest the clock operator at Henry County doesn’t have the fastest trigger finger (for those who have forgotten the Wildcats beat Shelby County, 52-51, in New Castle on Jan. 15, when Henry County’s Derek Jeffries bobbled an in-bounds pass, grabbed it after it bounced off the floor, turned and put up the game-winning shot – all in 1 second).

I must say, though, that I have seen a replay of the putback since then, and it seems to me that Johnson did indeed release the shot before the backboard lights up (if you are on Twitter, you can watch it at http://twitter.yfrog.com/nel4blasxjnrqjjrwbvqesbzz). And it’s a good thing that the officials calledit good, because I’m pretty sure if they would’ve waved off the basket, they would’ve needed a police escort to get out of Henry County’s gym.

But forget about the time for a second (or five-tenths of one). When have you ever seen a team actually pull off the miss-a-free-throw-and-put-it-back-in-to-tie-the-game? My answer, hardly ever. And for the record I had never seen it done the way the Titans did it Tuesday, with Johnson running in from the 3-point line, grabbing the ball underneath the basket and flipping it up off the glass.

That shot was without a doubt the biggest in the brief history of the Titans’ program, and it could – and should – go down in the ever-evolving lore of Collins basketball.

Of course it would likely live on even longer had the Titans won the game, but that’s just the way the ball bounces sometimes. I’ve already told a few people that they should just cancel the rest of the 8thRegion Tournament and let that game stand as the final.

That isn’t going to happen, and that’s probably little consolation to Collins, but it would only be the proper tribute to the heart-stopping contest.   

“I’ll never forget that game,” Marshall told me Wednesday night. “It was a game to remember.”

That’s it, I thought to myself, that’s the best way to describe that game – unforgettable.