Mahopac Miracle: Indians win in 2OTs
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MAHOPAC — Even over the roar of the loudest fans in Section 1, Kevin Downes was clearly audible screaming from the bench. He was that incensed.
Mahopac’s coach thought his team got a season-saving break, forcing Arlington into a five-second inbound violation with 8.8 seconds left in overtime and his team trailing by two — only to see it waived off by an official who awarded the Admirals a timeout.
“Yeah, I was pretty furious,” Downes said. “But the kids all said to me ‘Don’t worry coach. We’ll get the ball back.’ And they did.”
Zack Ankier’s stunning steal at halfcourt on the ensuing inbound and a game-tying lay-up by Marc Vaccaro forced a second overtime and gave the third-seeded Indians all the momentum they needed to complete an unthinkable comeback.
Mahopac rallied from 18 points down in the third quarter and pulled out a heart-stopping 76-75 victory over No. 6 Arlington before a capacity — and deafening — home crowd in a Section 1 Class AA quarterfinal.
“I can’t think of being apart of a better game than this,” Downes said.
“You can’t put it into words,” Mahopac junior Brendan Hynes said. “Just unbelievable and crazy.”
Hynes recorded 24 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and three steals, and Ankier added 21 points as the third-seeded Indians book their second straight trip to the final four at the County Center. They, and their army of fans, will take on No. 2 Fox Lane on March 2 at 5 p.m
“If you would have told me that at the beginning of the year, I would have said no way,” Downes said of getting back to the County Center. “I thought we were talented but we lost so much; nine seniors, five starters, our top six scorers. There was just no way. I couldn’t have dreamed this if I wanted to.”
Tuesday’s game will go down as one of the best of the 2011-12 season in Section 1. Mahopac, which beat Arlington in the regular season, lost their best player, Hynes, with two fouls early in the first quarter. He sat until halftime as the hot-shooting Admirals staked a 15-point lead.
“Watching on the bench as they took that lead, it was killing me,” Hynes said.
“We’ve been in that scenario before and he’s gotten the third foul,” Downes said. “I really struggled with what to do, especially when they got that big lead. I thought if I put him out there and he got a third foul, he’d have to sit in the third. I didn’t want that. I knew we’d make a run. I stuck with it and took the gamble.”
Hynes returned in the third but Mahopac’s comeback didn’t start until Arlington was dealt some foul trouble of its own. Brian Brocker, the Admirals’ standout forward, went to the bench with his third foul with his team ahead 48-35.
The Indians scored eight straight points with Brocker on the bench before Hynes opened the fourth with and-one, cutting the deficit to 50-44. Mahopac kept chipping away before Hynes drained a 3-pointer with two minutes left to put his team ahead, 54-53.
Brocker got the lead back with a basket with 50 to go but Hynes sent the game to overtime with a free throw. Brocker (20 points and six rebounds) fouled early out in overtime.
In the first session, Arlington led the entire way had the ball down up 62-60 when a wild game took a shocking turn. Following the near five-second violation, the Admirals inbounded the ball and Ankier stepped in front of a pass at halfcourt. He quickly got it upcourt to Vaccaro (13 points, seven rebounds), who made a contested layup.
“It was shocking,” Downes said. “We told the kids if they get it, just go to the basket. It was unbelievable the way it happened.”
The ball momentarily sat on the rim before falling into the net as the crowd exploded.
Arlington actually turned the ball over on the ensuing inbound as well, giving Mahopac the ball with 1.3 seconds left. But Vaccaro’s shot at the buzzer bounced off the rim.
With three starters fouled out, Arlington couldn’t keep up in the second overtime. Mahopac, which led by as many as eight in the period, got a little scare when the Admirals banked in a long 3-pointer with 25 seconds left to cut the deficit to two.
But Hynes drained two free throws with to go to seal it. Arlington hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
“This is such a positive group of kids,” Downes said. “The way they kept fighting and playing, it’s unbelievable. It’s hard to put it into words.”
Email Kevin Devaney Jr. at firstname.lastname@example.org