Bowsher's Ajai Washington, center, hugs teammate Eric Morant (3) to celebrate Washington hitting the game-winning 3-pointer at the buzzer against Rogers.
Following some prophetic advice from his mom, Bowsher senior Ajai Washington came through with a miracle shot on a phenomenal Friday night finish.
Down by two points to Rogers with 4.9 seconds left in regulation, Washington quickly dribbled to mid-court. His desperation 3-pointer found nothing but net sending the home-side into delirium.
Washington's heave from center court lifted the Rebels to an incredible 60-59 over the visiting Rams.
“I knew we had it,” Washington said. “The crowd was leaving and I said, 'No stay here, it ain't over with. I got faith.' My mom always told me, 'You can speak things into existence.' I told them we were going to win. I spoke it into existence. We won.”
Bowsher sophomore Lamar Skipper hit a 3 pointer with 7.1 seconds left to pull the Rebels within a point. Rogers sophomore Ketaan Wyatt then knocked down one of two free throws to make it 59-57.
PHOTO GALLERY: Bowsher 60, Rogers 59
“That's the biggest shot of my life – by far!” an elated Washington said moments after emerging from a mob that enclosed around him during the pandemonium. “We work on that shot all the time in practice. At the end of every practice, we work on half-court shots. It's amazing. We knew we were going to come out and get this victory. It's a great victory.”
It was a fitting end to a tight contest that featured 15 lead changes.
Bowsher coach Joe Guerrero, who has coached in the City League for 30 years, leaped into the air as the horn sounded as the ball went down the cylinder.
“This is right up there,” Guerrero said. “This is a great win for our young guys. We've experienced some lows and it's good to have a win like this. Our crowd was amazing. So to see them rush the floor is pretty neat.
“We do practice that. We have a little game we play on the day before games where we shoot from half court. And someone always makes it. So, fortunately, he made it tonight.”
Bowsher (7-8 overall, 4-3 City League) had trailed by six points with 1:07 left. But the Rebels outscored the Rams 10-3 over the final minute.
Rogers (5-10, 5-1) fell for the first time in league play.
Washington finished with a team-high 16 points for Bowsher. Skipper tallied 12 points, while Terrance Williams and Shawn Hoskins each finished with 11.
Rogers senior Christian Smith, the City's leading scorer, finished with a game-high 20 points. Da'Sean Nelson had 15 points and Ketaan Wyatt chipped in with 12.
Smith hit a 3-pointer with 4:02 remaining to put Rogers up 49-42. The Rams opened the fourth quarter with a 12-2 run to take an eight-point lead with 3:38 left.
But Bowsher quickly countered with a 6-0 spurt with buckets from Hoskins, sophomore Eric Morant, and Williams. The Rebels then trailed 50-48 with 2:25 remaining.
Rogers grabbed a 58-52 lead on a defensive rebound by Nelson that led to a transition basket by Wyatt. But Markus Ray scored with 22 seconds left for Bowsher to pull the Rebels back within four points.
“When they were up by four, coach G looked at us and said 'We got this,'” Washington said.
After Josh Ellis missed the front end of a one-and-one, Skipper knocked down a 3 to make it 58-57. Wyatt then converted on one of two free throws for Rogers for what turned out to be a precarious two-point lead.
Rogers led 17-13 after the first quarter, which featured five lead changes. Smith, who is averaging 19.7 points per game, had eight in the first quarter and Nelson had seven points.
The teams then exchanged the lead three more times in the second. Nelson had a huge, two-handed dunk that gave the Rams a 21-17 lead. But Williams hit a 3 pointer for Bowsher that gave the Rebels a 21-20 lead. Williams then was fouled at the buzzer on a shot beyond the arc. He hit two of three free throws to give Bowsher a 26-23 lead at the half. The Rebels forced six turnovers in the second.
Williams hit another 3 that put Bowsher ahead 31-29 and Washington drained another 3 with 31 seconds left as the Rebels took a 40-38 lead into the fourth quarter.
Rogers started the final quarter with an 8-0 run but Bowsher had the final prophetic push.
Nelson finished with a game-high nine rebound for Rogers, while Ellis had five.
Bowsher finished with a 29-26 edge on the boards. Ray had seven, while Hoskins and Washington each had five.
“I thought we played well,” Guerrero said. “We controlled the tempo. We played about as well as we could. It's good for our young guys to experience this because we've had a lot of ups and downs. So this is a big win for us. This is a big win for us, obviously.”
Rogers, which starts three sophomores, had topped the Rebels 68-53 in the first meeting on Dec. 7.
Bowsher, which has won two consecutive City titles, has captured three of the last four CL crowns.
“We're the champions, so everyone gives us their best game,” Washington said. “We played it right.”
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