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BOYS BASKETBALL: Cliff's half-court game winner leads WL Northern to miracle win over Harrison WATCH SHOT HERE

Game Info

Basketball - Boys - 3/4/2013 

Farmington Hills Harrison 47
Walled Lake Northern 48
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EDITOR'S NOTE: Scroll to the bottom to watch Chris Cliff's half-court game-winner, courtesy of Brandon Nafso.

FARMINGTON HILLS Rare is the game that manages to stun a gym full of people twice in the final five seconds. Monday's pre-district Class A playoff game between Walled Lake Northern and Farmington Hills Harrison featured back-to-back improbable occurrences that left everyone involved in a state of disbelief.

First, after trailing by 15 points to begin the fourth quarter, Harrison patched together a furious comeback to seize a two-point lead with just 2.2 seconds remaining. Junior Todd Moore's converted shot from beneath the basket should have capped off the most unlikely of come-from-behind wins for the Hawks.

But Northern's Chris Cliff had other plans.

After receiving an in-bounds pass with his feet on the center court line, the sophomore forward turned and fired a desperation half-court shot that sailed straight through the netting to lift the Knights to a 48-47 victory at the buzzer.

For Northern, fourth quarter disaster had turned to euphoria in the blink of an eye, extending the Knights' season in the process.

"It was unbelievable," Cliff said of his reaction to sinking the game-winning 3-pointer. "That's the first time I've ever had that experience and for it to have happened in a district game, I couldn't have asked for any more."

Northern coach Ron Thompson said the final play, drawn up in the preceding timeout, was not intended to position Cliff as the shooter.

"We wanted to get it to Chris at half court and we were looking for either Gage (Throgmorton) or Isaac (Savage) coming down the sideline," Thompson explained. "They weren't open and he did a great job of recognizing it. He turned, one dribble, and got the shot up. We told him we only had one dribble to go and he did the one dribble and made it. Unbelievable shot by a great player."

With the victory, the Knights (7-14) advance to face district host North Farmington in Wednesday's semifinals.

"It was a huge mix of emotions," Thompson said. "We saw it slipping away. When Chris hit the shot, it was relief and jubilation. I don't know if we deserved it, but I thought we did for three quarters. We had one bad quarter and luckily we were able to advance."

Struggling badly in the early going, Harrison entered halftime trailing 29-13. Northern's athleticism and 3-point shooting created serious problems for the Hawks for the first three quarters of the game.

But a 12-0 scoring run to open the final quarter drew the Hawks into striking distance with time winding down. During that stretch, Harrison's defense was indomitable, as Northern's offense struggled to even reach half-court with the ball secured.

"They picked up the pressure in the full court and by doing that, when we did break (the press) we were forcing up quick shots that we weren't wanting to," Thompson said.

Eventually, the Hawks' comeback was complete, as junior Lorenzo Collins hit a game-tying shot with 54 seconds remaining and senior Dorian Fields came up with a steal of the basketball for Harrison just moments later.

Playing for the final shot of the game, the Hawks (13-8) passed and dribbled around to run 35 seconds off the clock before Moore drove into the lane and hit his shot to put the Hawks ahead. The remaining 2.2 seconds, however, proved to be enough time for Northern to deflate the Hawks' momentary celebration.

"Our kids didn't give up," Harrison coach Jason Pickett said. "It's a testament to our kids. They competed, and competed, and competed."

For Northern, Gage Throgmorton finished with a game-high 17 points. Cliff, the hero, tallied 14 points.

Last Updated: 3/5/2013 3:07:26 PM EST


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