After squandering a 14-point lead with eight minutes to go, the shot that hurt Mount Tahoma the most against Mountain View came from the least likely spot. The Thunder’s Taylor Drey nailed a three-pointer with two seconds left to send Mountain View to a 68-67 win after they had shot just 1-for-18 from the three-point line to that point.
“They scratched away because we didn’t do what we needed to do,” said Mount Tahoma head coach Owen Chambers. “(Instead), we didn’t want to run clock. We were up 14 and we wanted to come down and shoot the three-pointer with three minutes to go. That’s what got them back in the game.”
The dramatic comeback spoiled an outstanding performance from Thunderbird senior Brian Neal, who scored a game-high 31 points for Mount Tahoma. Neal tried to add even more heroics when he heaved a last-second effort from midcourt, but it bounced off the backboard and the rim to end the Thunderbirds’ season.
Mount Tahoma controlled most of the first half, as Michael Rollins – who finished with 15 points – hit four of the Thunderbirds’ six three-pointers in the half and Neal scored 10 points in the second quarter. Neal’s jumper inside with just over a minute left gave Mount Tahoma a 38-27 lead at the break.
The Thunderbirds maintained a double-digit lead for much of the third quarter, as Haywood Irwin scored a couple of early baskets and Neal’s runner with just under five minutes gave them their largest lead to that point at 56-44.
After Neal’s jumper made it 57-43 at the start of the fourth, Mountain View came storming back behind Shane McCauley – who scored 20 of his team-high 24 points in the second half. McCauley’s layup with 4:46 left capped a 12-0 run to suddenly cut it to 57-55. Mount Tahoma kept inching back ahead, first with Devion Hammond’s jumper to make it 61-55 and then Neal’s three that made it 64-59 with 2:40 remaining. McCauley’s put-back a minute later gave the Thunder their first lead since the opening minutes, but Neal responded with a layup to make it 66-65. Rollins made it 67-65 in the final moments after converting just one of two free throws, leading to Drey’s dramatic final shot.
“It seemed like we went away from (Brian) toward the end of the game,” Chambers said. “Everybody else thought they could do their own thing. I think that’s what hurt us, we were being too selfish down the stretch.”
Andre Wiley added seven points and eight rebounds for Mount Tahoma, while Irwin had six points and eight rebounds. Drey tallied 18 points and Luke Duchesne had 14 points for Mountain View.
“I give them credit,” Chambers said of his players. “No one here played in a district game before…it gives the younger group of kids the experience to see the tears in the seniors eyes once the clock goes to triple zeroes. They don’t want that to happen to them. But they did great. They competed well.”