Devan Stone was in the right place, and Tobin Shyrock delivered a pass with perfect timing.
The result was a breath-taking buzzer-beater by Stone that boosted Santa Barbara to a 63-62 upset victory over rival Dos Pueblos on Saturday afternoon at Sovine Gym.
Dos Pueblos led 59-53 with 1:11 remaining in the fourth quarter and appeared to be putting the finishing touches on a solid win, but missed free throws by the Chargers and clutch shooting by Santa Barbara flipped the script and set the stage for a thrilling finish.
“They showed their will and desire to win,” said Santa Barbara coach Corey Adam. “These guys have the ultimate confidence, even the sophomores and juniors. They think they’re going to win every game, and you’ve got to have that mindset to have a chance.”
Balanced scoring and depth boosted Santa Barbara as senior guard Andre Battle led the way with 11 points, including three three-pointers and nine Dons scored overall. Luke Gonzales and Luke Zuffelato scored nine points. Mikey Denver and Will Harmon finished with eight points.
However, it was Dos Pueblos that threw the first punch as hot shooting by Kael Rillie sparked Dos Pueblos to a 15-9 lead at the end of the first quarter. Rillie connected on three three-pointers in the period with the final shot trickling through the rim at the buzzer over a swarm of defenders.
The Dons battled back into the game and tied the score at 17-17 on a three-pointer by Tucker Dillbeck and took a 22-21 lead on a driving layup by Mikey Denver with 3:38 remaining in the second quarter.
A driving layup by Blaise Winston put Santa Barbara ahead 25-22 just before halftime.
Sign up for Indy Today to receive fresh news from Independent.com, in your inbox, every morning.
In the third quarter, Dos Pueblos took control behind a barrage of three-pointers. The Chargers knocked down six three-pointers in the period, including three from Joaquin Riker, who finished with a game-high 26 points.
“You can never tell if he’s happy or sad because he is just so even-keeled,” said Dos Pueblos coach Joe Zamora of Riker. “He’s a leader. That’s the reason he is one of our co-captains. He’s a four-year varsity player for me, and we want the ball in his hands.”
The Chargers took a 46-42 leading into the fourth quarter and extended that lead midway through the final stanza to 52-44 when Rillie was fouled on a three-pointer and converted two free throws.
Dos Pueblos led 59-53 with 1:11 to play when Zuffelato knocked down a three-pointer to cut the Santa Barbara deficit to 59-56. A layup by Joe Talarico put the Chargers ahead 61-56 with just under a minute to play, but Zuffelato was fouled driving to the basket with 40 seconds remaining and converted both free throws cutting the Santa Barbara deficit to 61-58.
Riker was fouled on the ensuing Dos Pueblos possession but missed the front end of a one-and-one. Luke Gonzales followed with a layup off an inbounds play for Santa Barbara cutting the Dons’ deficit to 61-60 with 10.5 seconds remaining.
Riker was fouled again and made the first free throw but missed the second. Dos Pueblos sophomore forward Micah Goss swopped in and grabbed an offensive rebound and was fouled, but he went on to miss the front end of another one-and-one. Gonzales battle for the rebound and eventually kicked the ball ahead to Shyrock, setting the stage for the final sequence and Stone’s heroics.
“If he had been healthy this whole year, he would be our leading scorer. When you’ve got a kid that you know can score…. I’ve got faith in him,” said Adam of Stone. “People better beware; that kid can play.”