Tony Volk had been dreaming of the moment for years.
Ever since his teammate Matt Finnander made a game-winning shot at the buzzer in fifth grade, Volk had fantasized about making one of his own.
On Tuesday night, Volk got his wish.
The Maine West senior guard hit a running 3-pointer as time expired to stun Deerfield 54-53 in a Central Suburban North opener.
“I wanted that day to happen to me,” Volk said of Finnander’s fifth grade buzzer-beater. “To be senior year, against a conference opponent, to have the crowd jump on you, best time of my life. Amazing.”
Volk (11 points) put the exclamation point on a furious comeback that saw the Warriors (4-2, 2-1) erase a 5-point deficit in the final 12 seconds.
“I didn’t think we’d have the opportunity to have the chance to tie it,” said Maine West coach Erik McNeill. “A little luck never hurts.”
Volk and junior Raghav Patel (8 points) paced a Maine West bench that scored 19 of its 27 first half points. The reserve guards started the second half after leading the Warriors to a 27-20 halftime lead.
But it was Deerfield who responded in the second half.
Junior guard Eric Porter (18 points, 5-of-5 from 3-point range) and sophomore guard Samuel Kuznetsky (11 points) led Deerfield on a 17-4 run into the fourth quarter.
Deerfield (3-3, 0-1) held off Maine West until the final 12 seconds. Volk knocked down 2 free throws to narrow the deficit to 3. But Deerfield turned it over with a double dribble to give the ball back with 7.6 seconds left.
Once again, Volk was fouled and knocked down a pair. A quick foul sent Kuznetsky to the line with a chance to give Deerfield a 3-point lead. After draining the first, Kuznetsky missed the second to give Maine West one last shot.
Sophomore Joel Ferraren (8 points, 8 rebounds) rebounded the miss and found Volk. With five seconds left, Volk looked for Maine West’s leading scorer Tom Kukec (6 points) but he was covered like he was most of the game.
Volk weaved through Deerfield defenders and drained a game-winner that sent the Maine West faithful into a court-storming frenzy.
“It’s tough, but when you go 4-for-8 at the line at the end of the game and defensively, you just keep letting them go to the basket without putting up any resistance, you’re shooting yourself in the foot and you’re making it hard for things to go your way,” said Deerfield coach Dan McKendrick.
For Volk and Maine West, it doesn’t get much better than that.
“Oh my God, I don’t even know,” Volk said. “It’s so surreal. I can’t believe it actually happened. I can’t believe it went through the bucket. I can’t believe I got through the defenders. Everything, it was just amazing. Best night of my life.”Copyright © 2013 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.