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Sacred Heart's Dustin Neyer hits unbelievable 3-pointer as time expires to send the Irish to a Class D regional championship win over Fulton

  • Sacred Heart senior Matt Motz and Irish students celebrate seconds after Dustin Neyer's game-winning 3-pointer. (Sun Photos by SKIP TRAYNOR)

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EDITOR'S NOTE: Scroll to the bottom of this story to watch Dustin Neyer's game-winning 3-pointer, which finished as the No. 1 play on ESPN SportCenter's Top-10 Wednesday night.

BIG RAPIDS – When you watch enough games, the crazy and unexpected play is bound to happen here and there.

But a play as unreal as the one Sacred Heart pulled off to defeat Fulton 50-47 Wednesday night in a Class D regional championship game at Big Rapids High School, well that is the kind of stuff that will go down as legend.

With just 0.8 seconds left in a deadlocked 47-47 contest, the Irish drew up an inbounds play from the sideline that was supposed to be a lob pass from Brooks Hyble to the interior where Kevin Gamble would perhaps be able to throw something in at the buzzer.

Instead, Hyble reared back and threw his best fastball which caused the basketball to deflect very hard off the glass as Gamble was well-guarded underneath.

The ball, untouched at that point, came right out to Sacred Heart senior shooting guard Dustin Neyer who launched a prayer from beyond the 3-point line.

Somehow and someway, the ball hit every part of the rim before finding its way through and Sacred Heart became the winner in the most miraculous fashion imaginable.

While the scoreboard said the final was 49-47, it should have read 50-47 as the shot was clearly a 3-pointer.

“The way it was set up, I was supposed to set a screen for Gamble right at the top of the key,” Neyer said. “But Brooks threw it a little hard off the backboard and somehow it landed in my hands. At first I thought the clock had run out, but then I realized you have to touch it for the clock to start. So I just chucked it up and it went in.”

Video of the game-winning 3-pointer quickly went viral as outlets such as Deadspin.com and ESPN SportsCenter spread it to a wide viewing audience.

“I didn’t even know it counted until a few seconds later. I thought the time had run out,” Neyer added.

Neyer finished the game with 11 points.

Needless to say, Irish coach Pat Theisen has never seen a play that stunning in his coaching career.

“I don’t think many people ever have seen a shot like that,” Theisen said. “We were trying to get a lob in and Brooks threw it pretty hard. That’s not how we drew it up, but that’s how it worked out and we’re very fortunate.”

Theisen also gave a thank you to the clock operator at Big Rapids, who made the correct call in not starting the clock until the ball was touched which did not happen until it was in Neyer’s hands.

“If that clock had started, we’re going to overtime,” Theisen said.

For much of the game, the Pirates (21-3) controlled the action and forced Sacred Heart to try and play catch up.

Fulton led 17-8 after the first quarter as sophomore shooting guard Colton Antes drained four 3-pointers in the first eight minutes alone. Antes scored a game-best 24 in the contest.

In the second quarter, the Irish began to play much more composed with Kevin Gamble leading the way as they trimmed the deficit to 24-21 by halftime. Gamble scored seven of his 23 points in the second stanza.

The Pirates again began to pull away from Sacred Heart as they pushed the lead to 37-32 at the end of the third quarter and then to 42-34 with five minutes left on a Dalton Trefil free throw.

But the same type of resiliency the Irish showed in a regional semifinal comeback win against Baldwin was evident again Wednesday as a 9-0 run was capped by a Gamble 3-pointer that gave them a 43-42 lead as 2:29 showed on the clock.

Antes, who had cooled down from 3-point range in the second and third quarters, responded with a big one as his fifth 3-pointer immediately thereafter gave Fulton the lead back at 45-43. Two free throws by Antes pushed the score to 47-43 with 44 seconds left.

Sacred Heart scored on its next possession as Hyble cut the deficit to two, while following a missed Fulton free throw on the one-and-one Gamble tied it up with just 2.1 seconds to go on a feed from Matt Motz.

Gamble was magnificent all game long in the winning effort.

“He’s one of those guys who is never too high or never too low,” Theisen said of Gamble. “He just makes plays and he is one of the best in Class D in my opinion. He gets putbacks and tough buckets. A lot of credit goes to Matt Motz for finding him on that tough bucket.”

After Gamble tied it, the Pirates called a timeout looking to set up a potential game-winning bucket. Instead, traveling was called on Fulton as Sacred Heart put pressure on in the backcourt.

“When I heard the whistle, I thought for sure they were going to call a foul on us,” Neyer said. “Luckily, they called traveling and gave us one last shot.”

It was one last shot that Neyer will never forget.

“We’re not out of it until the clock hits zero,” Neyer said.

From Fulton’s perspective, it was a devastating loss as the game was in its hands for much of the fourth quarter and throughout the night.

“We kind of shot ourselves in the foot a few times in the last couple of minutes and you can’t do that against good teams,” Pirates coach Todd Walden said. “We shouldn’t have put ourselves in that situation. We should have been shooting free throws the rest of the way and we had a couple turnovers that really hurt us.”

Even so, Walden acknowledged the fine season his squad did have despite the heartbreaking ending.

“This team battled all year,” Walden added. “They won a lot of games they probably shouldn’t have according to some people. But they expected to win every time they stepped on the court and that says a lot about those kids. I’m really proud of them.”

Sacred Heart (20-3) advances to the quarterfinals, where it will square off with Frankfort Tuesday at Cadillac High School. Game time is set for 7 p.m.

Last Updated: 3/14/2014 3:03:53 AM EST