Some shots win $1,000. Some just win a chance to keep on playing.
The first: Albert Peña, Jr., stood at center court, visions of his air-balled half-court shot still in his eyes. With a sheepish smile he nonchalantly hooked a second shot one-handed over his head.
No arc to speak of.
The crowd erupted.
Peña won a $1,000 scholarship to Southwest Colorado Community College.
“The first one was way off, so I just kind of hooked,” he said afterward. “It went in!”
The second shot: Durango High School basketball senior Nick Hamlin and his teammates started to panic around the arc as they tried to find a shooting guard.
They’d blown a 13-point third quarter lead to trail the Montrose Indians by three points as the seconds and tenths of second slide below 5.0 in the corner of their collective vision. Hamlin, a post, pump faked, pump faked again, pump faked again. Arms in his face, he launched a shot from beyond the 3-point arc.
Somewhere in the din of the crowd the buzzer sounded.
Hamlin and the Demons just forced an overtime.
In the final four minutes, the Demons rode the shot, the noise and the foul line on a 13-3 run, and the DHS boys beat Montrose 58-48 in overtime on Friday night at DHS.
“I wanted it. I wanted it,” Hamlin said. “I got the ball, saw the clock, it was counting down and said ‘I’m shooting it.’”
Despite the multiple pump fakes, there was no hesitation in Hamlin’s money ball.
DHS led the Indians from the start, and the game looked all but over when big man Trent Andrews scored nine third-quarter points to take the Demons to a 35-22 lead as that quarter neared a close.
Andrews led all scorers with 14.
But two consecutive 3s from Montrose sparked some life, and the Indians nurtured it into a 17-0 run spanning into the fourth quarter to give them a 39-35 lead – their first one of the night – with less than five minutes to play.
The Demons’ hoop, meanwhile, seemed to have shrunk.
“Nothing was gonna fall for us,” said Dane Mestas, whose sister, Latoya, will use her boyfriend’s $1,000 scholarship to help pay for nursing school. Mestas is the son of Josette Chacon and Dane Mestas.
Then, Hamlin’s buzzer-beater killed the Montrose growth.
“Holy moly,” DHS head coach Alan Batiste said. “These kids are going to kill me.
“They went on that run, but we didn’t quit. The boys just kept playing and kept shooting.”
In overtime, the Demons hit 9 of 10 free throws, five of them Willy Frownfelter’s for the senior-night win after seniors Adam Marsa, Frownfelter, Ty Elliott, Taylor Moquino, Bryton Kinlicheene and Hamlin were honored before the game.
Hamlin and Frownfelter each finished with 12.
“Too good,” said Hamlin, son of Thomas and Victoria Hamlin. “I haven’t beat Montrose all these years, and leaving them with that taste in their mouth ... ”
Mestas still was savoring the shot: “I thought it was the craziest shot ever,” he said.
Both of them.