Gilbert boys basketball coach Jay Caserio knew Friday night’s Division I matchup against Mesa Dobson would be a tight one, but no one could predict an ending this dramatic.
With 1.1 seconds remaining in the game and Gilbert leading by a point, Dobson’s Jaron Hopkins caught a long pass from center court and laid in a last-chance, buzzer shot from underneath the basket. No sooner did the visiting crowd erupt than was bucket was called off, with officials saying it didn’t beat the buzzer.
The controversial call meant victory for Gilbert, which defeated Dobson for the second time in two weeks, winning 58-57 Friday at home.
“To be honest with you I think that should have probably been a bucket there at the end,” Caserio said. “I think it was kind of stolen from them.”
The heart-stopping ending capped an electrifying fourth where the lead changed hands four times in the last five minutes.
Gilbert’s Conner Helvig sunk a critical three-pointer with 1:46 to cut Dobson’s lead to one and Truman Moore came up with a beautiful block on Dobson’s next possession to get momentum swinging in Gilbert’s direction, but Helvig missed the front end of a one-and-one with 9.7 seconds to go and gave Dobson a shot a victory.
“That was a little nerve-racking,” he said. “I wish I would have made those, but we still pulled it out.”
Helvig had 13 points in the fourth quarter, including three 3-pointers. He had 29 points on the night.
Gilbert led for the majority of the game but every time the home team built a healthy lead, Dobson would come crawling back. Dobson’s offensive effort was led by Hopkins who finished the night with 21 points, including seven in the fourth quarter.
“I think that’s the best I’ve ever seen Dobson play,” Caserio said. “They passed the ball and shared it really well.”