In the chaotic moments that preceded the biggest shot of his life, Tre’Shon Heard had no time to contemplate the magnitude of his actions.
No chance to gain perspective. Barely enough time to get his bearings and a general feel for the location of his basket.
The McCutcheon (Lafayette, Ind.) sophomore point guard only knew that precious few seconds remained in regulation in the Mavericks’ Class 4A Lafayette Jeff Sectional semifinal against Logansport.
“I had it in my hand, and I had to turn around and let it go,” Heard said of his thoughts in the tie game. “I just had to get it up there.”
Heard’s improbable, buzzer-beating 80 foot launch snapped through the net, giving McCutcheon a 56-53 victory over Logansport and a berth in tonight’s sectional championship game against Kokomo.
“I looked at it for a minute, and something told me it was going to be a good shot,” said Heard, who’d scored his seven points on free throws before tossing up the biggest prayer – and the biggest three points – of his young career.
“My heart dropped. I felt so relieved knocking that shot down.”
Heard made two free throws with 18.1 seconds left to tie the score 53-53. Logansport brought the ball up for one shot, and leading scorer Antonio Penny dribbled near the baseline. With Mavericks senior Matt Muncy in his face, Penny put up a fade-away jumper in the final seconds that missed the rim.
Heard, a 5-foot-9 point guard, grabbed the shot out of the air, turned and heaved it from his waist just before the buzzer sounded. When it dropped through the hoop, McCutcheon’s student section stampeded onto the court in celebration as Logansport’s players stood stunned, emotional or both.
“I got trampled; the whole team just got pushed over pretty much to Tre,” said McCutcheon sophomore forward Mark Neill, who scored 12 points off the bench. “A moment like that is a moment in my four years at McCutcheon I’ll never forget. … It was a shock.”
Early in the fourth quarter, no one could have predicted such a finish. McCutcheon had controlled most of the game, leading by as much as 18 in the third quarter. Neill’s jumper put the Mavericks up 47-31 with 6:35 left to play.
Over the next six-plus minutes, a nightmare scenario unfolded for McCutcheon.
Logansport’s Todd Yeoman and Jayson Higgins hit 3-pointers on consecutive possessions to cut the Maverick lead to 10. The Berries also turned up the defensive pressure, forcing repeated turnovers that Penny, held in check much of the game, began converting into layups.
With 2:56 to play and Logansport surging, McCutcheon senior Nathaniel Acree picked up his fifth foul. Just 30 seconds later, Mavericks leading scorer and rebounder Trevor Lockwood picked up his fifth as well.
Penny’s free throw completed a 16-0 run, and Logansport had tied the game 47-47.
“We were kind of leaning in the first half,” said Penny, who scored 25 points while making 7 of 23 field goals and 11 of 22 free throws. “We didn’t pressure much. On the offensive end we just kind of passed the ball around.
“Second half I just think everybody as a whole was aggressive.”
The Mavericks had a chance to seal the win after two Nate Deno free throws gave them a 51-48 lead with 56.8 left. But Higgins responded with a game-tying 3, his fourth of the game. After another McCutcheon turnover, Berries senior Jacob Snow was fouled, and his free throws gave Logansport a 53-51 lead.
Heard also may have been responsible for the game’s second-biggest play, when he got an offensive rebound and was fouled with 18.1 seconds left. His first free throw bounced around seemingly every inch of the rim before falling through. His second, tying the game 53-53, was as clean as the miracle that ended the game only seconds later.
“Fortunately we did enough at the end of the game to be there, and that shot by Tre — that’s a once-in-a-lifetime type shot,” McCutcheon coach Rick Peckinpaugh said. “You don’t expect that to go in, but doggone it I’m glad it did.”