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Conn. girls squad pulls off its best Bryce Drew imitation to win state title

Cameron Smith
Prep Rally

If the ongoing high school basketball tournaments across the nation have taught us anything, it’s this: If you don’t already have a unique, full-court-length buzzer beater inbounds play in your team’s arsenal, just look back at the best plays in NCAA tourney history and use one of those.

Incredibly, just days after that scenario played out in a boys basketball game where a near duplicate of the Grant Hill-to-Christian Laettner buzzer beater paved the way to an overtime win, a girls basketball game featured a near blow-by-blow remake of another famous moment: Bryce Drew’s 1998 buzzer beater for Valparaiso that knocked off Ole Miss.

The video you see above captures the final seconds of the Connecticut Class LL girls basketball state title game, a contest between Middletown (Ct.) Mercy High and state power Milford (Ct.) Laurelton Hall High. With just 3.8 seconds remaining, Mercy trailed by two, 53-51, but had the ball under its own basket.

If what happened next looks familiar, that’s because you’ve essentially already seen it before. The difference was just in the sex and level of the players.

In the Connecticut female version of the play, Mercy’s Sheena Landry quarterbacked a near point-perfect three-quarter-court pass to teammate Cassandra Santoro. Just behind the three-point line, Santoro was immediately mobbed by Lauralton Hall defenders, but she found just enough space to slip a pass out to teammate Maria Weselyj.

Weselyj had just enough time to pull in the pass and launch a deep three, then watch it sail through the net for a near-miraculous 54-53 victory, sending the Mercy sideline and fans into a delirious celebration on the Mohegan Sun court in Uncasville.

According to the Milford-Orange Bulletin, Mercy coach Tim Kohs admitted to being inspired by Drew’s famous winning shot when originally designing his last-second formation called “home run.”

“I got kids coming off the court with tears in their eyes and I had made a point that if they score, I want a timeout,” the coach told the Bulletin. “I knew there was time on the clock. Did I know we were going to win? No. I was hoping pretty hard. …

“[The Drew winner and Weselyj’s shot were] Exactly the same. I bet you if you went and watched that film, draw a spot where Maria shot and where Bryce Drew shot from and they’re within a foot of each other.”

Here's another version of Weselyj's championship-winning shot, complete with the play-by-play from Connecticut Public Television, which broadcast the game live.

The made bucket was all the more sweet because it finally got Mercy over the line in a state title game. Mercy had fallen in the state final for three consecutive seasons entering their game against Lauralton.

This time, Mercy would up on the right side of the scoreboard, thanks to Weselj’s heroics and a little inspiration from Bryce Drew.

“I give credit to all of (my teammates and coaches) and I hope that they take this win and understand that it is possible,” Weselyj said. “We don’t have to come here thinking, ‘We’re going to lose because we lost the past three.’ We’re going to think, we can win here, we just did it.”

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