Originally when I was mapping this thing out, the top three games of 2012 looked a little different. Then, I decided to call an audible when I was looking through the archives of the games I’ve been at this year.
When I thought about it a little more, I knew Ryan and Denton’s District 4-4A basketball game had to be ranked as the third best game of 2012.
For most of Ryan’s games last season at Billy Ryan Gym, the atmosphere was a bit lacking, to put it politely.
But for this home game against Denton, the atmosphere was amazing. And so were the Broncos through the first three quarters.
Denton’s offense was running smoothly and in a gym with one side cheering for the city’s oldest team and the other side cheering for the city’s most successful team over the last 12 years, the Broncos seemed poised to pull off the massive upset.
Then came the end of the third quarter.
Ryan’s Sam Johnson was running down the court and threw up a hapless 3-point attempt from midcourt as the buzzer expired. Johnson got hit on the arm and the ball went way short. From where I was sitting, it clearly looked like a foul. That no-call sparked the most compelling quarter of basketball all season.
Ryan head coach Bryce Overstreet erupted and he berated the officiating crew for the lack of a whistle. He got one a few seconds after his tirade begin, as he was whistled for one technical foul and then another by official Dennis Howard. Here’s what I had written that night.
Howard tossed Overstreet, who was in complete disbelief at the call. As a police officer moved toward the end of the scorers’ table, Howard turned to the table and said, “Thirty seconds or this game’s over,” giving Overstreet a half-minute to vacate the court.
For the remainder of the game, Overstreet watched the game by peering through the clear window in the red doors of the gym.
“It was a helpless feeling,” Overstreet said.
From there, Ryan was led by senior Trey Mohair and he scored 14 of his 31 points in the fourth quarter. The Raiders took their only and final lead in the last 40 seconds of the game as the Broncos let an 11-point lead slip vanish in the game’s final eight minutes and Ryan won 62-60.
Turns out the no-call and Overstreet’s ejection sparked Ryan’s tremendous playoff run for the rest of the season.
Mohair said in the story recapping Ryan’s season the turbulent moment caused the Raiders to come together as a team, igniting a stronger bond that carried Ryan to the state tournament.
The amount of pride on the line that night, as well as the future playoff implications and the rare rowdiness from the crowd on the last night in January made it easy to tab the game as the No.3 best contest of the year.