LA VERNE, Calif. - After Damien (Calif.) witnessed a mammoth fourth-quarter collapse that ended with visiting Mission Oak High School's (Calif.) Blake Shannon banking in a half-court shot at the buzzer to send Wednesday's playoff game to overtime, Damien sophomore Jeremy Hemsley rescued the Spartans with a buzzer-beater of his own.
Hemsley's three-point shot as time expired in overtime lifted the Spartans from the jaws of defeat and gave Damien a 74-72 victory to advance to Saturday's second round at second-seed West Hills Chaminade (Calif.).
After Shannon, who finished with a team-high 25 points, hit two free throws to give the Hawks a 72-71 lead with 3.2 seconds left, the Spartans quickly advanced the ball to half court and called a timeout with 2.4 seconds left.
"The coach set up a play and I told (teammate) Jared (Dizon) I wasn't going to let us lose it," Hemsley said. "I was going to take the last shot."
That's exactly how Damien coach Matt Dunn remembers the conversation, too.
"When he walked off the court as calmly as could be he said, `I got it coach,' " Dunn said. "It doesn't take a genius as a coach to know where the ball is going."
Hemsley, who finished with a game-high 31 points along with seven assists and six rebounds, made three dribbles and pulled up for the game-winner.
"He knew exactly how much time he had and make a great shot," Dunn said. "Sometimes you have to give it to the special player."
Damien (22-5) also received fine efforts from Jared Dizon and Keith Cavanaugh, who finished with 14 points apiece.
The Spartans led 50-36 with just under six minutes left, but the Hawks went on an 11-0 run to trim the deficit to 50-47 with 2:36 left.
Hemsley sank a pair of free throws to make it 60-53 with 51 seconds left, but Mission Oak's Elijah Porchia hit a 12-footer and, following a Spartans turnover, Shannon hit a long 3-pointer to trim it to 60-58 with 3.7 seconds left.
After Cavanaugh hit one of two free throws to extend the Spartans' lead to 61-58 with 2.8 left, Shannon took the inbound pass just past midcourt and made the shot to send the game to overtime.
"It was a great high school basketball game," Dunn said. "We didn't finish the fourth quarter very well or the overtime very well, but sometimes you have a great player that bails you out, and that's exactly what Jeremy did."