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Team takes regional title with midcourt buzzer beater

Cameron Smith
Prep Rally

Trailing 51-50 with just 2.5 seconds remaining, Shawnee (N.J.) High's dreams of reaching the NJSIAA Group 4 Final Four were hanging by a thread. With the ball at midcourt, the Renegades had just enough time for an inbounds pass, maybe a dribble and then a Hail Mary-style heave at the buzzer.

Amazingly, that's all Shawnee star Joe Bodnar needed to eliminate Williamstown (N.J.) High, the top-seeded team in New Jersey's Group 4 South bracket, with a 45-foot buzzer beater sailing smoothly through the basket to send Shawnee fans into delirium, as you see below.

"One or two dribbles and I knew I just had to fire it up," Bodnar told Philly.com after the victory. "Got it up there, it was right on the line. It felt good as soon as it left my hand."

Incredibly, Bodnar's midcourt buzzer beater against Williamstown was almost a cruel twist of fate against a team which pulled off a similar feat days earlier. Tied in a regional semifinal against Lenape (N.J.) High, Williamstown's Curtis Hopkins earned his team a spot opposite Shawnee with the following buzzer beater, which earned his team a 44-42 win.

The shocking victory against Williamstown sent Shawnee on to the Group 4 state semifinals, where Bodnar and his teammates' luck finally ran out against Rancocas Valley, a fellow hot-shooting upstart team which had already dropped 10 games before the playoffs. Rancocas jumped out to a 23-4 lead in the first quarter, riding that early lead to a comfortable cushion that it never relinquished, eventually winning, 73-66.

While the playoff run may have ended short of a state title for Shawnee, Bodnar's heroics will certainly have left plenty of happy memories for the school's fan base, which got to celebrate a truly unbelievable buzzer beater, at the expense of a team that advanced in nearly identical fashion.

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