Davis guard Abel Porter had two defenders swarming him under the basket and a third coming. The Darts’ entire season — one that has seen them ascend to near the top of the Class 5A ranks — hinged on the next two seconds.
Porter, a senior, didn’t flinch. He lunged behind the incoming third defender, where Jaydon Ryan was streaking down the baseline. He flicked the bounce pass. Ryan caught it and touched it off the glass, into the hoop, as the buzzer flared.
“It was the craziest pass I’ve ever made in my life and Jaydon finished it,” Porter said. “Just barely.”
It wouldn’t be the last time the Darts’ season hung in the balance Thursday in their Class 5A quarterfinal against Copper Hills. But Davis was alive and headed to overtime, where it finally prevailed with a 66-62 win over the gritty Grizzlies, earning a trip to the state semifinals.
Many expected the Region 1 champion Darts to cruise by third-seeded Copper Hills. But a halfcourt halftime-buzzer-beater from Zac Hoffman pulled the Grizzlies to within 3, breathing life into a team that believed.
The Grizzlies came out of the half with energy the Darts couldn’t match. They outhustled and outplayed Davis, something that rarely happens to the Darts.
“We knew they were going to come out and try to make it a messy game,” Porter said, “and try to just ‘D’ us up really hard, go after loose balls and hustle. That’s what they had going for them. They did exactly that and I don’t think we really stepped up to it.”
When the Grizzlies reeled off a quick run midway through the third quarter to take a seven-point lead, the Darts realized that everything they’d worked for was in danger of crumbling.
“At that point we were kind of like, ‘Alright, we need to start playing. This isn’t a joke. We could go home,’” said Porter, who finished with a team-high 17 points and six assists.
But even though they were being outplayed and lacked the momentum, the senior-laden Darts had experience in their favor. It kept them in the game down the stretch and showed up in Porter’s crucial pass. And it helped them hang on in a pressure-packed overtime that saw the Grizzlies miss a potential game-winning 3 with four seconds left.
“One thing we held on to, and that was experience,” Darts coach Jay Welk said. “Our experience paid off.”
Storylines Darts survive upset bid
R Jaydon Ryan’s layup at the buzzer in regulation gives Davis a chance to prevail in overtime.
• Abel Porter finishes with 17 points and six assists to lead the Darts.
• Preston Sanchez has 18 points in the loss for Copper Hills.