It might not have been a pretty shot.
The play leading up to Wednesday night’s half-court game-winner for West Salem didn’t go down as it was drawn up on the sideline.
But it was a moment that was nothing short of awesome. I mean jumping and cheering, awesome.
Like, storming the court and dog-piling under the hoop, awesome.
Chris Fedler’s desperation heave with seconds left on the game clock was… I still can’t think of another word.
It gave the the Titans a 68-66 win and created a near riot as fans and players converged under the basket to celebrate a first-place victory in the Central Valley Conference basketball tournament.
It was a moment that happens once in a lifetime.
West Salem had led most of the game and was up 51-46 to start the final period.
But late in the game, Sprague’s Devvon Gage took the inbound pass on the wing and hit Tanner Morgan under the basket for an easy tip-in to give Olympians the lead 66-65 with 5.3 seconds left.
Sprague’s side of the gym erupted in frenzy.
West Salem’s coaching staff drew up a play designed to get the ball to Seth Erickson who already had scored 22 points, including four 3-pointers, and let him slash to the basket. Remember, the Titans were only down by one, so they didn’t need to hit a long shot to win.
When play resumed after two timeouts, Fedler was positioned to inbound the ball for West and so started what has become an instant legend.
Erickson took the inbound pass but got hung up just past half-court by Sprague’s defense and flipped the ball to Fedler as he crossed half-court.
In what one Facebook user in response to the story online called a “don’t think, shoot it” moment, Fedler released an awkward shot and watched it pass cleanly through the net as time expired.
“His subconscious mind had set the shot and the distance and look what happened as a result,” said Michael Hill, who commented on Facebook. “The mind and body connection is the thing, especially when under pressure. It’s like and override switch for the brain.”
Fedler became the improbable hero. He was mobbed under West Salem’s basket by teammates and fans as Sprague’s players walked off the floor in disbelief.
In talking to the Statesman Journal after the game, Fedler said with simple understatement, “it’s a great feeling.”
They were Fedler’s only points of the game, and they couldn’t have come at a better time.
I envy players like Fedler and North Salem’s Malik Leaks, who also hit a game-winning shot on Tuesday as the Vikings beat McKay 52-51 for third place in the tournament.
These are memories that these kids, and their family and friends, will remember forever.
The video I captured of this moment has become a mini-phenomina of sorts.
The 40-second clip captured with my iPhone caught the attention of other media outlets and spread throughout the day Wednesday via Facebook and Twitter.
Timm Collins is the sports engagement producer at the Statesman Journal. His column is published on Thursdays and Sundays. Reach him at tdcollins@Statesman Journal.com, (503) 399-6750 or follow him at twitter.com/Timm CollinsSJ. For more , go to StatesmanJournal.com/ sports.