Brandon Smith was an option on the final play for Marysville – but not the first one.
The Vikings were glad that they went with Plan B.
Smith drilled a game winning 3-pointer as time expired to give Marysville a 40-37 win over Marine City in high school boys’ basketball on Tuesday.
As the final seconds ticked away in a tie game, Smith tossed the ball into the paint to Brady Beedon. But with two Mariners surrounding him, he put the ball back into the hands of Smith as he stood behind the 3-point line and netted his first-ever game-winning basket in front of his Viking teammates as they watched anxiously from the bench.
They quickly mobbed him and later hoisted him off the ground to celebrate the victory that gave the Vikings sole possession of second place in the Macomb Area Conference Silver Division.
Smith scored just five points, but Marysville Coach Ryan Biewer sensed that he was capable of delivering if Beedon was cornered by the Mariner defense.
“He had missed a couple (of baskets), so he was due to hit one,” Biewer said.
Smith could find only one word to describe the feeling – “great.”
“I was hoping it would go in,” Smith said. “I had a lot of confidence when it hit the net.”
It was the second time that Marysville (5-4, 4-1) beat the clock with a basket. Matt Russell sank a layup just before the halftime buzzer sounded to give the Vikings a 23-19 lead. On a freezing night outdoors, the senior had a hot hand with 19 points inside the Marysville gym.
But with the game on the line in the final seconds, Biewer wanted the ball in someone else’s hands.
“We knew (Marine City was) going to try to take Matt away,” Biewer explained. “We wanted to get the ball down low and set up a play for Brady. They defended it pretty well and we put Brandon Smith on the wing.”
“I thought (Beedon) was going to make a move,” Smith said. “But (Marine City) collapsed on him and he kicked it out and I hit it.”
“You knew it was going in right when it left his hands,” Biewer said.
Mariner Coach Joel Whymer stood on the other end of the floor in disbelief. The Mariners (4-5, 2-3) had their chance at last second heroics only moments earlier.
Senior Sam Honaker led all scorers with 21 points, but with 29 seconds left he had a wide-open look at a 3-pointer that would have given his team the lead.
The ball bounced off the rim and into the hands of Russell for the rebound.
“We felt like that was a good look and Sam is going to knock that shot in the majority of the time and it just didn’t go down,” Whymer said.
Marysville took a 13-5 lead after an 8-0 run to close out the first quarter. After the Mariners went on their own spurt to tie the game at 19-19, the Vikings closed out the first half with a pair of baskets – including Russell’s shot before intermission.
Marine City grabbed a 26-25 lead midway through the third on a jumper from Honaker.
Neither team could build a sizable advantage over the other and it was clear to everyone that just one basket was going to be the difference.
“It’s a big rivalry game and we knew (Marine City) was going to be tough this year,” Smith said. “It was going to come down to that last-second shot and I pulled up and hit it.”
“It’s hard to win on the road,” Wyhmer said following his Mariners’ first outing in a five-game road swing. “But tonight, we can’t ask for better opportunities. It came down to a few possessions here and there.”
With the win, Marysville sets itself up for a first-place showdown with Clintondale at home on Thursday.
“Our division is really competitive and every single night it’s that mental toughness part of it,” Biewer said. “You have to gut it out and any team can win on any given night. That’s something that we’re focusing on.”
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