Dejon Hardiman (background), Pontiac, attempts to the block the shot of Chris Barton, Auburn Hills Avondale, during boys varsity basketball action at Avondale Friday, Dec. 13, 2013. (Special to The Oakland Press / LARRY McKEE)
Basketball - Boys
BOYS BASKETBALL: Buzzer-beater from Carthane gives Pontiac win over Avondale
Jalen Latham, Auburn Hills Avondale, goes up for a shot in the paint during boys varsity basketball action against Pontiac at Avondale Friday, Dec. 13, 2013. (Special to The Oakland Press / LARRY McKEE)
Jordan Reed, Pontiac, makes a no-look pass during boys varsity basketball action at Auburn Hills Avondale Friday, Dec. 13, 2013. (Special to The Oakland Press / LARRY McKEE)
Zarrick Sturgis, Auburn Hills Avondale, brings the ball up court during boys varsity basketball action against Pontiac at Avondale Friday, Dec. 13, 2013. (Special to The Oakland Press / LARRY McKEE)
EDITOR'S NOTE: Scroll to the bottom of this story to watch Vezzie Carthane's buzzer-beating drive for Pontiac.
AUBURN HILLS — Vezzie Carthane beat the buzzer twice Friday.
Carthane nailed a two-pointer in the closing second of the third quarter to give his Pontiac boys basketball team a two-point lead, and with the score tied at 55-55 and time running down, Carthane drove to the basket and sunk the game-winner on a hanging lay-up as time ran out and lifted Pontiac to a 57-55 win over Auburn Hills Avondale Friday.
In a timeout late in the game, Carthane decided on the play and had his coach’s confidence in the game’s final seconds.
“I’ve been coaching (Carthane) for the last over six years, and the last play I simply came to him and said ‘What do you want to run?” Pontiac assistant coach Damon Odneal said. “All we did was call a clearout and he said, ‘Coach, I’m going to come get the ball with about eight seconds left, I’m going to score and we’re going to win the game,’ and that’s exactly how it went.”
The senior guard dribbled the ball down to about six seconds before making his move to the basket on the game-winner and scored eight clutch points in the second half to finish with 15 for the game.
“I just knew we needed to win,” Carthane said. “I designed a play and I just went for it. …It’s good for us. It’s a good start.”
The game was tight all the way as Avondale led for most of the first three quarters until a two from Pontiac’s Marcus Beavers evened the score at 44 late in the third quarter.
As time ran down in the quarter, Carthane got a shot up and nailed it to put the Phoenix ahead 46-44 going into the fourth and help his team overcome a double-digit deficit from earlier in the game.
A bucket from Dejon Hardiman put the Phoenix ahead 55-49 with 3:14 to play, but Avondale got a big response from Alex Hodges.
Hodges split a pair of free throws then tripled to pull Avondale to within 55-53 with 2:30 to go, then Zarrick Sturgis, who finished with six points for the Yellow Jackets, nailed a pair of clutch free throws to tie it at 55 with 33 seconds left before Carthane got the game-winner.
Pontiac now moves to 2-0 after holding off Lake Orion in its opener as it will get a chance to celebrate its OAA crossover win against Avondale before continuing play against North Farmington Thursday.
“We depend on our senior leadership,” Odneal said. “We want to be battle-tested when we get into the tournament, and these type of games we can learn from.”
Avondale was led by Daequan Terrell’s 17 points as he was a force all game, and moved the ball in transition a lot against an athletic and aggressive Pontiac defense.
The Yellow Jackets made some big shots late in the game and worked hard to counteract the Phoenix’s defensive aggression.
“I think we were trading jabs all night,” said Avondale coach Tim Morton, likening the game to boxing. “Their pressure is in your face. … I couldn’t be pleased more with our effort. We’re still learning.”
Avondale, which will compete in the OAA White this year, lost a high-scoring close game to Rochester Adams in the season-opener and will try to learn from two close losses to OAA Red opponents.
The pace was very quick in the opening quarter as both teams pushed the ball and Avondale opened with a 20-15 lead after one, and pushed it to six at halftime as a number of players contributed.
While the Phoenix will celebrate the win and prepare for North Farmington, the Yellow Jackets (0-2) play Rochester Tuesday.
“We haven’t started league play yet,” Morton said. “We’re going to be competitive and be the best team we can be come March.”
PONTIAC 57, AUBURN HILLS AVONDALE 55
PONTIAC — Vezzie Carthane 5 5-6 15; Jordan Reed 3 (1) 2-4 11AVONDALE — Daequan Terrell 5 (1) 4-4 17; Alex Hodges 1 (1) 1-4 6, Pritheesh Palanisamy1 0-1 2; Zarrick Sturgis (1) 6-8 9; Vishnu Akella 3 1-1 7; Jalen Latham 4-4 4; Chris Barton 2 (2) 10; Totals: 55
SCORE BY QUARTER
P 15 17 14 11 — 57
A 20 18 6 11 — 55
RECORDS — Pontiac 2-0; Avondale 0-2
JV — Pontiac 55, Avondale 37