A Philadelphia teen drilled a game-winning shot with just 2.6 seconds remaining … then had to wait 19 minutes to learn that his shot actually was a game-winner. Incredibly, that 19 minute delay didn't involve any overtime, any extra possessions or other structural delays. Instead, it may have comprised the longest final 2.6 seconds in prep basketball history.
Here's how it all happened, as documented by the Philadelphia Daily News' Ted Silary, starting with the moment from when Philadelphia (Penn.) Martin Luther King Charter High star Malik Paulk hit what appeared to be a game-winner jumper, handing his team a 43-41 lead against city rival Philadelphia (Penn.) Hope Charter High.
The delirious Cougars ran to Paulk and beat him to a pulp, in a good way. Soon, the Hawks were sprinting to the midcourt area across from the scorers' table. A disturbance was taking place at the foot of the stands, and they feared the mother of player Shakoor Woodson, who'd offered gamelong encouragment, was being attacked.
Hardly. As multiple King personnel said later, the fight involved two female spectators with King ties, a current and former student. One wound up stomping the other.
As the scene again became peaceful - almost all spectators were ordered to leave; Hope's players were herded into a gym office right behind their bench - the officials said 2.6 seconds should be returned to the clock. If the game was going to be finished, that is.
Before the game could be resumed, officials had to clear the situation with Public League basketball chairman Ben Dubin, who had left the contest early in the fourth quarter. Dubin signed off on the officials' ruling that no technical fouls need be assessed to the MLK squad because the team thought the game was over when it rushed the floor. Dubin also certified the 2.6 seconds to be put back on the court.
That cleared the way for MLK and Hope Charter to return to the court for one final inbounds play. Hope got to put up one more shot, with a potential game-winning three from Shamear Townsend bouncing off the rim, cementing Paulk's status as a game-winner nearly 20 minutes after it should have been made.
"Our plan was to have [Scott] drive, so he'd get doubled, then hit me in the corner behind a pick [from William Leak]," Paulk told the Daily News. "With all the driving, I'm not sure why we went with that play. But we did, and it worked. Hit threes. That's what I do, usually.
"When it came down to the wire, at least I hit it."