Any time a team reaches the state tournament it’s likely to produce some memorable on court anecdotes. Still, the way Wellington (Fla.) High School earned its spot in 2018-19 is likely to prove truly unforgettable.
Deadlocked at 37-37 with Cypress Bay (Fla.) High School, Wellington figured its best shot at a state tourney bid would be to defend a last second inbounds and pull out the win in overtime. At least that’s how the script went. Instead, De’ante Perez decided to take matters into his own hands.
When Cypress Bay looked for a deep outlet on the left side of the court, Perez instead read the pass and jumped in front to intercept it cleanly. Then, in one smooth motion, he launched a shot from one step inside the line for mid court, watched it take a clean bounce off the backboard and in for a game winner that sent the team to the state playoffs.
It’s always impressive to nail a shot from mid court, even if you’re Steph Curry. For a high school kid to do it under that pressure in those circumstances, where his team didn’t even have the ball at the start of the possession, that’s a whole different level.
“I saw the clock and all that was going through my head was, ‘Get the shot up!’ I shot it, believed in myself, and it went in and got my team to states. It’s amazing,” Perez told the Palm Beach Post. “I probably could have (dribbled closer), but at the time, it was just, ‘Let it go.’”
Good call. Now let’s see how he and his teammates respond when they reach an even bigger scale, together.