FAIRFIELD — One more rebound, one more basket.
That’s all the Armijo High boys basketball team needed to avoid overtime and to keep its playoff hopes alive Friday night against host Rodriguez.
The Indians got it.
With 8 seconds on the clock and the score tied at 66, courtesy of a pair of free throws by the Mustangs’ Johnny Shelton, the Indians (13-7, 7-3 MEL) inbounded the ball and got it to Hosea Barfield at the top of the key.
Barfield let fly a jumper from just inside the arc, but it fell short and into the hands of teammate Terris Brooks, who snared the rebound and nailed a reverse layup with one second remaining to secure a 68-66 Monticello Empire League victory for the Indians and preserve a three-way tie for second place behind Rodriguez (12-13, 7-2 MEL) with one game left.
“I just grabbed the ball and put it back up as fast as I can before time ran out,” Brooks said, still in shock over his game winner.
The final shot spelled redemption for Brooks, who had a chance to put the game away, but missed a pair of free throws with less than 30 seconds to play.
That allowed Shelton to get up for a layup attempt on which he was fouled, setting up the final play.
“That was very huge. I could see from my angle that it was coming up way short, we had sent down Terris earlier in the play, clearing him out to be a possible shooter down there and he just made a great basketball play,” said Indians coach Carly Perales. “He went and got it and it was a bit of redemption for him after missing the two free throws with a chance to ice it. The kid never hung his head, kept playing and he was ready for the next opportunity and he made it happen.”
Rodriguez opened the game looking like it would run away, putting up a 9-0 run in the first 2 minutes, 12 seconds.
An Armijo timeout slowed the Mustangs and the Indians seized a 16-12 lead on a Brooks layup with 42 seconds left in the quarter.
“We had to take the early timeout after they hit us with a 9-0 (run). We knew we were fine at that point, we just had to start making some shots, we missed a bunch of shots early, they made a bunch of shots,” Perales said.
Rodriguez rallied again and carried a 34-31 advantage into the break.
From there it was neck and neck the rest of the way as neither team could pull away.
The second half alone saw seven tie scores.
For Rodriguez it’s now a matter of regrouping and getting a win Tuesday at Vacaville.
“Overall, we had a game plan and our game plan, it broke down during the game,” Rodriguez coach Nate Rankin said. “I take nothing from Armijo. Armijo had a great game plan, they stuck to their script.”
Armijo needs another win Tuesday when it hosts Vintage. A Mustangs loss at Vacaville would force a four-way tie for first place.
“We never give up. We always fight so we can get the win,” Barfield said. “We needed it tonight and however we got it is how we got it. We got the ‘W,’ we kept the gym alive and we’re going this Tuesday, our senior night to play Vintage and if we win that hopefully we get in for playoffs.”
Tyree Carrie led the Indians with 16 points and Brooks added 13. Barfield and Troy Anderson scored nine each.,
David Shelton and Johnny Shelton led Rodriguez with 21 each.