Atascadero’s Dylan Talley nailed a three pointer as the overtime buzzer sounded to give the Greyhounds a 98-97 victory over Santa Maria Monday afternoon.
Just moments after the shot swished through the net to give Atascadero the 2019 Jim Bashore Holiday Cage Classic tournament title, the junior was struggling to put the shot into words.
“The play wasn’t actually for me to take the shot,” Talley admitted. “It was for me to roll back… (Zyon Richardson) drove and drew two, kicked it back and I just had to fling it up. One second left, I just had to let it fly.
“It felt good,” he added. “I put enough under it, I think, and I just was looking and thought ‘oh wait, is this going in?’ and it went in. Good shot baby.”
Talley is no stranger to the big moment. Just last week he drained a clutch three pointer to help the Greyhounds hold off Pioneer Valley.
“I strive to make these shots. I’ve hit more shots like these in the fourth quarter in my life, so I feel like this is just me,” he said. “These are the shots I take. It’s a dream come true, honestly. Watching the NBA and watching people do that my whole life, it’s a dream come true.”
Perhaps the only thing more remarkable than the final shot was the resiliency and poise of Richardson. With 38 seconds left in overtime tied at 95, Richardson was dribbling the ball at the top of the key trying to run the clock down. As he bounced the ball and tried to beat his defender, Santa Maria’s Carlos Hidalgo came from the backside for the steal and proceeded to go down and hit a lay up with six seconds left to give the Saints a 97-95 lead.
“I was just trying to go behind the back and nobody told me that No. 3 was coming,” Richardson said. “I just lost the ball.”
After Santa Maria (8-4) took the lead, Atascadero (8-4) called a timeout and coach Augie Johnston drew up a play for Richardson to get to the basket and find the open man.
“I don’t know if that was exactly the most open guy, but he found somebody and we got a shot off at least. It was a prayer but it was a good shot,” Johnston said. “We’ll take it.”
Richardson said he felt like he had something on the play, even if it wasn’t quite how Johnston drew it up.
“Something told me, I think it was God, that we were going to win this game,” he said. “I just believed.
“He was open. I had no other choice,” Richardson explained. “I wasn’t going to drive it and take a stupid shot. I seen him and I know what he could do from practice, so I just believed in him on that one. He came through.”
Monday’s matchup of Ocean League teams lived up to the billing of what a championship game should be. The Saints held a 45-44 lead at the break in a half that featured seven ties and 10 lead changes.
The third quarter featured eight lead changes, as Santa Maria took a 67-65 lead heading to the fourth.
With 4:30 left in regulation, a two pointer by Atascadero’s Mitchell Carpenter gave the Greyhounds a 79-78 lead before Santa Maria’s Daisean Leekins nailed a three to give the Saints a two-point lead. A layup by Santa Maria’s Jonathan Garcilazo gave the Saints an 85-81 lead with 3:02 left. That proved to be the final bucket for the senior guard, who finished with a game-high 34 points.
Richardson’s bucket with 1:20 left in the fourth tied the score at 85. Santa Maria’s Rolando Pina hit a pair of clutch free throws with 1:13 left in the fourth, and his put back off an offensive rebound gave Santa Maria an 89-87 lead with 52 seconds left in regulation.
Atascadero’s Drew Ardouin tied the game at 89 with 40 seconds left and neither team would score again in regulation.
Carpenter gave the Greyhounds a 95-93 lead with 53 seconds left in overtime before Pina, who scored four points in OT, converted a layup to tie the game. Hidalgo’s steal and layup gave the Saints the lead before Talley’s triple as time expired.
Talley finished with 13 points for the game. Ardouin had a team-high 26, while Carpenter dropped 23 and Richardson scored 20.
For the Saints, Leekins scored 17 points, Pina had 18 and Justin Gutierrez and Hidalgo each had 13.
“They played their hearts out,” said Santa Maria coach Dave Yamate. “We’ve been in four down-to-the wire games. The balls bounced our way there the last three.”
To reach the championship game, Santa Maria defeated Thacher 79-76 on Friday and on Saturday won 80-78 against Carpinteria, behind Gutierrez’s game-winning layup at the buzzer, before holding on to beat Foothill Tech 67-65.
“We showed a lot of poise in four close games against teams that are like the teams that we’ll play in our league,” Yamate said. “It’s a shame that someone had to lose. It was a good high school game. It’s what you want the championship game to be like. Overtime, high scoring, two league teams going at it – what more could you ask for?”
While Talley appeared to get the shot off before time expired, it certainly was close.
“You could maybe sit there and say maybe he didn’t get it off in time, but its high school basketball, human error with the refs. He swished the shot at the buzzer and you’ve just got to take the positives away from it,” Yamate said. “Don’t get me wrong, we would have loved to come away with that win. We had our opportunities. We had a couple of key turnovers down the stretch, but the guys battled through that and we still had the lead.”
Yamate said he considered fouling off the inbound to send Atascadero to the line for a one-and-one, but mentioned that they Greyhounds could have rebounded the miss and scored before time ran out.
“There’s all those things that you can sit here as the arm-chair coach and analyze it, but we had them all stopped and they ended up kicking it out.”
Though it was a tough loss to swallow, Yamate said the goal is to have his team playing their best when league opens up next month.
“We’ve got a lot of season left,” he said. “This doesn’t make or break anything for us.”
The two teams will meet again Jan. 3 at Santa Maria.