Aaron Hammond a bank shooter?
“I am now,” beamed the Chaminade Julienne senior following an unlikely 64-59 overtime defeat of Alter at Trent Arena on Tuesday night.
Why not. Few other things have worked for these Greater Catholic League rivals this boys high school basketball season.
Just 0.6 seconds remained in regulation. CJ inbounder and standout sophomore quarterback Jacob Harrison got the call to wing a three-quarters heave. He hurled a rainbow into the middle to the far lane.
Hammond soared, snared, landed, spun and forced OT with a perfect bounce off the backboard.
All in less than a second?
“It’s like the Hail Mary in football,” CJ coach Joe Staley said. “So you gotta have a chance. Six-tenths of a second? I don’t know.”
Hammond, a rare three-year starter for the Eagles, was ready for his cell-phone camera moment, sort of.
“I was kind of nervous,” admitted Hammond. “It was in the air for a long time.”
So was CJ’s early fate. The Eagles began 0-3 and were 2-5 before winning their last two games to go 4-5. Three of those losses were by a combined nine points, including a three-pointer at Dunbar. Games with Beavercreek (10-1) and Thurgood Marshall (7-2) await.
That tough schedule should bode well for CJ come tournament time, when the Eagles will drop down to Division III after being anchored in D-II for a couple decades.
“Sometimes, when you play good people you kind of forget how to win and you start to doubt yourself,” Staley said. “That’s the risk that you run when you play that schedule.”
The Knights went ahead by two when Mike Schwieterman knocked down a close shot from the baseline. All that did was set up Hammond’s heroics at the end of regulation. CJ’s Alan Vest drained a trey and added two free throws with :1.0 left in OT to clinch the win.
Vest led CJ with 18 ponits. Harrison, a sub, added 13 and C.J. Riazzi 12. Schwieterman paced Alter with 15 points and Nate Burger added 14.
Both teams needed this win. Instead, Alter (2-7) is lumped with its fifth straight loss under new coach Eric Coulter. He landed the unenviable task of replacing the only other coach Alter has ever had, Joe Petrocelli.
“It’s one of those things,” Coulter said. “They made a play and you have to make a play to win the game and they did.”