Of all the miracle finishes we've tripped across this year, none may have been more fortuitous than the one that punctuated the conclusion of overtime in a CIF first round game between Murrieta Valley (Calif.) High and Corona (Calif.) High.
First, Murrieta Valley somehow came up with a way to close a seven-point deficit to one, with just 1.7 seconds remaining. Then, a full court away from their own hoop, Murrieta Valley came up with the "Miracle Finish" you see at the 1:56 mark of the highlight video below, which chronicles the furious final two minutes of both regulation and overtime of the heated matchup.
The player who connected for the final bucket made the conclusion all the more astounding. According to the North County Times, Murrieta Valley senior guard Casey Withers had literally not hit a single shot all night. Not a single one of the three he had put up. Yet when the attempted court-length pass from fellow Nighthawk Jackson Helm to Darius Butler was tapped away by a Corona defender, Withers was the only player in range of the ball. Miraculously, it bounced right to him, giving him just enough time to hoist a final, desperate shot as time expired.
"It was a back screen for Darius," Withers told the Times. "I set the screen and I came off the play. The ball was loose and I was the only one who could shoot. I shot it.
"I knew that my next one was going to go in."
The three-pointer lifted Murrieta Valley to an improbable berth in the second round of the playoffs, all while ending Corona's season when the Panthers had seemed to build a near insurmountable lead first in regulation and then in overtime. Instead, they saw both evaporate, first on a three within the final 10 seconds of regulation by Murrieta Valley's Butler, and then at the hands of Withers' sling-shot-like prayer.
"We had our chance at the end of regulation," Corona coach Chris Maffucci told the Times. "We fell down, but we tried to foul them so they wouldn't get off the 3. We had our chance there. That last-second shot; what are you going to do? That was a prayer."
Luckily for Murrieta fans, it was a prayer that went answered, culminating a furious rally that few are likely to forget any time soon.