The plan was to switch all ball screens, so on the game’s biggest possession, Seabury Academy’s Thomas Diaz was left to guard University Academy’s Martez Harrison at the top of the three-point line.
It was a tie game, final seconds, and the 6-foot-5 Diaz was trying to stop a 5-10 guard who had already put up 43 points.
“I felt pressure,” Diaz said, “but I knew that I had to play good defense on him and close out and let him shoot over me.”
Diaz stuck to the quick Harrison, forcing a fadeaway three-pointer that bounced hard off the rim and sent the game to overtime. There, Seabury outlasted Harrison and UAHS for a 76-71 victory in front of a raucous home crowd at Seabury’s gym.
“We knew that it was Senior Night,” Diaz said, “and I didn’t want to go home sad after my last game at home.”
Though Harrison’s missed three-pointer was a huge momentum-changer, it was his made three-pointer in overtime that ended up being the biggest boost for Seabury.
Following a three from the right wing with 3:05 left in overtime — his first three of the night, good for his 46th point — Harrison said a few words to the Seabury players in celebration.
The referees whistled him for a technical foul, and because it was his second of the game, he was disqualified.
Though Seabury trailed 69-68 at the time, it controlled the contest after that.
Seabury’s Khadre Lane buried a baseline jumper, then followed that up with a guarded three from the wing to push the Seahawks’ lead to 73-69 with 1:15 left.
“If we need him in those kinds of moments, he’s there,” Diaz said of Lane. “I believe in him a lot.”
Six-foot-7 senior Georgi Funtarov sealed the victory, when he put in two free throws with 4.9 seconds left to push Seabury’s lead to 76-71.
“I just said, ‘I have to make them, because it’s my last home game, and I want my team to win,’” Funtarov said.
The Seahawks (10-9) trailed by five with just 2:09 to go when coach Ashley Battles fired up his team, yelling at them in the huddle that they were the better team.
Lane followed with a three, then Diaz put in an offensive stickback before Harrison and Funtarov traded shots to tie it at 66.
UAHS (14-9) held it for the last possession, when Harrison’s three missed to send it to overtime.
Harrison finished with 46 points on 16-for-31 shooting. The penetrating guard also made 13 of 15 free throws and added a team-high 10 rebounds.
“You just can’t stop that kid,” Battles said. “You can stop everybody else, but you can’t stop him. It was just nuts.”
Funtarov answered with 29 points on 11-for-23 shooting to go with a team-high 12 rebounds. He also made his first three shots of the game —all three-pointers.
Diaz posted 17 points on 7-for-11 shooting, though his best skill might have been as a blood stopper.
After getting fouled with 3:34 left in overtime, Diaz was left with a bloody nose, which required him to come to the sideline.
To buy time, Battles asked the officials about every scenario and rule he could think of, then took a timeout so trainers could tend to Diaz.
Following the stoppage, Diaz went out to the court with toilet paper stuck in both nostrils, which wasn’t allowed by the officials.
When he took the paper out, the bleeding had stopped.
Not only did Diaz hit both free throws, but he also stayed in the rest of the game without any more blood leaving his nose.
“I just put some water on my forehead and prayed a little bit,” Diaz said. “I just kept playing, because my team needed me.”
Lane added 21 points, with 18 after halftime.