Ryan Anderson took one of those shots that seem to stay in the air forever.
His 5-foot jumper tantalized both DeWitt and Okemos by bouncing on the rim and shooting straight up into the air before falling through with 3.7 seconds left to give the Panthers a 56-54 win on Tuesday night.
“I just put the ball in my hands, threw it up and it finally went in,” Anderson said.
The game winner was part of a huge night for Anderson. He finished with 27 points in the victory for DeWitt.
“He’s a big-game player,” DeWitt coach Ron Marlan said. “What is making him that much tougher this year is his ability to put the ball on the floor and get to the rim.”
The Panthers (5-2) had a chance to win after a mistake by Okemos (5-2) on its previous possession. Although the Chiefs were playing for the final shot, DeWitt’s pressure was able to force a backcourt violation with 48 seconds left.
“We made far too many mistakes to win that game,” Okemos coach Jeff Wonch said.
Okemos had one last chance after Anderson’s bucket, but senior Austin Mashburn missed a 3-pointer from the corner as time expired. The Chiefs’ two losses this season have come on jumpers with 10 seconds or less remaining.
Momentum swayed back and forth throughout the game. Each team led by as many as 10 points, and there were seven lead changes.
“We knew Okemos was a great team,” Anderson said. “Coming into this, we knew that we wanted them, and they wanted us.”
After missing their first four shots of the game and falling behind 6-0, Okemos went on a shooting tear. The Chiefs connected on six of their next seven shots from the field.
The hot shooting was part of an 18-3 run for Okemos to grab control of the game. By halftime, it led 28-23.
The early lead was due in part to a strong start from senior Nathan Janick. He had 11 points at the break, including two 3-pointers.
But things changed quickly in the third quarter. DeWitt started the second half on a 7-0 run to take the lead. By quarter’s end, they had doubled their points from the first half and led 46-39.
“Our kids believed in themselves at halftime,” Marlan said. “They knew they were right in the game, and if they played came out and played hard, they could get themselves back.”
.In defeat, Janick finished with 15 points. Meanwhile, junior Joshua Borta came off the bench to support Anderson and DeWitt with 12 points.
The Panthers will look to keep the momentum going against Fowlerville on Friday, while Okemos is in Jackson.