Fenton coach Dennis Cromer has seen his fair share of buzzer-beating shots in 400 or so games of coaching varsity basketball. But the shot that ended Friday's Metro Suburban Conference boys basketball game against Ridgewood was something he had never seen.
With about a second on the clock, Rebels guard John Caravia launched a shot from halfcourt while falling out of bounds with Bison defender Terrance Southward in his face. The ball swished through the net as the buzzer sounded and Ridgewood escaped with a stunning 51-50 victory over the host Bison in Bensenville.
"I have never seen a flat-footed halfcourt shot that was a shot put," Cromer said. "It was a tough game to lose."
Caravia, who led all scorers with 19 points, said he hoped for a better look. After Fenton forward Dan Montano sank a free throw to give the hosts a 50-48 lead with 3.7 seconds remaining in the contest, the Rebels had to get up the court quickly. The best opportunity Caravia got was letting loose that last-chance line drive attempt and he let it fly.
"When it left my hand, I thought it was short," Caravia said. "I was hoping it would go in."
For the Bison it was a disheartening way to end the game. They fought back from an 8-point deficit at halftime and led for most of the fourth quarter. Fenton (6-11, 2-4) did it with strong inside play in the third quarter by center Cody Meyer, who scored 9 of his 12 points to help cut into the Ridgewood lead.
In the fourth quarter Montano came alive. He scored a couple of inside buckets and also nailed a 3-pointer that tied the score at 35 just 30 seconds in the final period. The Bison got the lead 37-35 on a quick shot by Emeka Umeadi and led by as many as 5 points in the waning moments.
"We talked at halftime about getting outplayed," said Montano, who also finished with 12 points. "We wanted to pick up the intensity on defense."
"Fenton is big and strong," said Ridgewood coach Patrick Woods, whose team improved its overall record to 11-8 and 3-3 in the conference. "We don't have enough size. They did a great job of getting the ball inside and banging on the boards."
But in the end it came down to the fact that the Bison did not get the job done on the free-throw line. They missed 3 crucial foul shots in the final 1:04.
"We couldn't overcome all of those (missed) free throws down the stretch," Cromer said. "We were 7 of 15 in free throws in the fourth quarter and 13 for 23 in the game and to lose by 1, that is a killer. That allowed them to hang in there in the fourth quarter. We played well enough to win in the second half."