Springfield High School seniors Larry Stephens and Jordan Howard had an impromptu meeting seconds before Beavercreek’s free throw went into the air.
“He looked at me and I looked at him, ‘Whoever gets that rebound, take that shot’,” Stephens said.
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With three seconds remaining and his team trailing by two points, Howard grabbed the rebound as caromed off the rim, took two long dribbles and nailed the three-quarter court shot, lifting the Wildcats to a 52-51 victory over the Beavers on Senior Night.
“I knew if it came off, I was going to be ready to get the rebound, toss it up and put it in God’s hands,” Howard said.
Howard had a little help from above. On Monday, Howard got word that his grandfather, Joe Jackson, had passed away.
“I was in class,” he said. “It was just shocking. I tried to make it to practice last night, but I couldn’t. I told my coach and my teammates that I’d be ready for the game. I knew it was Senior Night and that it was going to be special.”
All seven seniors want to be the man to hit the game-winning shot, but Stephens knew there was something special about Howard’s game-winner.
“That was for his Grandpa,” Stephens said. “I know his Grandpa is happy for him.”
After the shot, Howard was on the bottom of a dogpile celebration that included both his teammates and the student section.
“My body was breaking,” Howard said. “My body was hurting, but it was all fun and exciting.”
Wildcats interim coach Matt Yinger called the shot “one-in-a-million.” The Wildcats improved to 9-12 with the victory.
“We just felt like that was Grandpa,” he said. “It’s an amazing shot. That’s one-in-a-million. It doesn’t happen often, three-quarter court shot off one leg, three seconds to go. It was kind of befitting because we’ve been wanting things so badly to turn that corner. We’re hoping coming into tournament time we can hit our stride.”
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