There are buzzer-beaters. Then there are buzzer-beaters in moments of the highest stakes. Then there are buzzer-beaters in moments of the highest stakes from the opposite side of the court.
Nate Calmese, a point guard out of Mesquite High School (Gilbert, Ariz.), made what was likely the wildest shots in the biggest moment of his career.
Mesquite trailed St. Mary’s 73-71 with 2.3 seconds remaining in the semifinals. St. Mary’s had the ball and threw the inbounds pass deep down the court, towards the 3-point line on the opposite side. Mesquite knocked the pass away and Calmese corralled it. He heaved a prayer from well beyond the half-court line.
The result? A bucket, a berth in the championship game, and an appearance as the No. 1 play on SportsCenter.
One of the wildest moments in Arizona high school basketball history got some love as the top play on @SportsCenter tonight. Regardless of the controversy behind it, still a really cool moment.
— Zach Alvira (@ZachAlvira) February 23, 2022
“When the shot went up it was all in slow motion, when it went in I was trying to run to the locker room but I got trapped,” Calmese said to Cronkite News. “When I released it, it was perfectly on target so I definitely thought it was going in.”
The controversy referenced in the tweet from East Valley Tribune reporter Zach Alvira was in regards to the play clock. Cronkite News reporter Jack Loder explained:
“With St. Mary’s leading … Mesquite’s Elijah Foster buried a corner three to make it a two-point game. In high school, the clock runs after a made basket unless stopped by a timeout. In this case, neither team had any timeouts left, so when the clock stopped after Foster’s three, the St. Mary’s bench collectively threw their hands up in disbelief.”
Then, as the clock started ticking from 2.3 seconds as soon as the ball was knocked away, Calmese had very little time to release it. With a split-second play like that in a game with no instant replay, it’s typically down to the eyes of the beholder.
But none of that matters. The refs ruled it went in. Calmese, who averages 31 points per game and has three offers to play at the next level, got his team to the championship game. With a 26-3 record, Mesquite will take on 26-2 Salpointe Catholic (Tucson, Ariz.) on Monday and Calmese will try to end his senior season on top.
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