ESPYS: Why New Rochelle's Khalil Edney Must Win for "The Shot"
On March 3, 2013, New Rochelle senior Khalil Edney went from "just another high school hoopster" to a household name and a national superstar.
Edney drained a 55-foot buzzer-beater with 0.1 seconds left in the Section 1 Class AA boys' basketball championship game to dethrone the seven-time defending champions, Mount Vernon, completing a nearly-improbable comeback.
The Huguenots trailed 59-49 with just under four minutes left in regulation when they began chopping away at the deficit. Eventually, the No. 9 Huguenots found themselves with possession of the ball down two with 2.9 seconds remaining.
I personally caught live footage of the shot, in all its glory, for The Journal News and Gannett Co. that day, which is the same video you see used in this slide.
In the next slides, I will breakdown just how incredible this shot was, and why it deserves to win the "Best Play" ESPY award tonight.
What: 21st annual ESPY Awards
When: Wednesday, July 17
Where: Nokia Theater in Los Angeles, California
Watch: ESPN at 9 p.m. ET
Category: "Best Play"
The top 16 plays of the year were "seeded" into a bracket and needed to receive the most votes round-to-round in order to make the finals. The winner of the final four will be announced Wednesday night.
(1) Jadeveon Clowney's massive hit on Michigan's Vincent Smith in the Outback Bowl
(2) Khalil Edney's 55-foot buzzer-beater to beat Mount Vernon
(5) DeAndre Jordan's ridiculous alley-oop slam over Brandon Knight
(6) Ray Allen's clutch three-pointer to keep the Miami Heat alive in the NBA Finals
The Background: New Rochelle Entered as a No. 9 Seed with a .500 Record
Few people expected New Rochelle, which entered the tournament with an even 9-9 record, to even make the championship game. Even if the Huguenots (13-9) managed to march their way through the bracket and to the Westchester County Center in White Plains, N.Y., many expected Mount Vernon to run roughshod over them.
Nobody really expected New Rochelle to be in this game, let alone...be in the game. After going back-and-forth for most of the game, Mount Vernon started pulling away until it eventually had a 10-point lead with less than four minutes to go.
New Rochelle used clutch shots and smothering defense to force a situation in which it could tie the game with less than four seconds left. Even after the potential game-tying free throw rimmed out, the Huguenots still found themselves with a shot to win, however small it may be.
Edney draining this shot to beat a seven-time defending champion, whose program has sent several players onto the Division I circuit and is widely regarded as one of the best in New York, capped one of the best comebacks of the year.
The dramatics behind it are what make it a national award-winning masterpiece.
The Bad Break: Edney's Inbounds Pass Was Intercepted
Once Edney's toss was originally deflected by Mount Vernon, the clock started winding down. Mind you, there were only 2.9 seconds remaining to begin with.
Mount Vernon wound up gaining possession of the ball and again looked like it would hold on for its eighth-consecutive section championship. But...
The Glimmer of Hope: Mount Vernon Tosses the Ball in the Air
With two seconds left, a two-point lead and possession, all Mount Vernon needs to do is just hold it—that simple; just hold the ball until the clock runs out.
Even if you must get rid of it, why not take a half-court heave yourself? If you're Mount Vernon, you're obviously not trying to make it; you're just looking to put the ball where New Rochelle cannot get to it and to where you won't get called for a violation (possibly tossing it up straight in the air).
Instead, Mount Vernon does a weak toss in the air into New Rochelle's side of the court.
Granted, the unfortunate Knight probably figured what 99.9 percent of the County Center was thinking: "There's no way New Rochelle will grab the ball, come down with it, toss up a 55-foot shot in time and make it—all in under two seconds..."
Here's where it just gets ugly for Mount Vernon and downright magical in every way for Edney and New Rochelle...
The Catch and Release: Edney's Athleticism and Smarts Make This Play Possible
If John Brenkus is out there reading this, please do a "Sports Science" segment breaking down this play, because I know as well as anyone that you have the technology and intelligence to really explain how incredible this entire play was, much better than I can.
The Smarts: Edney had the presence of mind to continue the play, even after his initial inbounds pass was intercepted. When the ball is tossed up, he makes a leap for it with 0.7 seconds left on the clock.
The Athleticism: Edney is listed at 6'4" and he's a talented basketball player, so by pure physics he should have a somewhat decent vertical leap.
But my goodness.
This still doesn't do it much justice, but Edney got up there to grab this ball—you'll see it in the final slide with the full video.
Fate: This is where Mr. Brenkus comes in. If the ball is tossed just a little bit higher in the air, long enough to stay up there for 0.01 of a second, Edney doesn't get this shot off. If Mount Vernon even holds it for 0.1 of a second longer, Edney doesn't get this shot off.
The Shot, Part 1: Not over Yet...
Whereas the last still didn't do the slide justice, this one is perfect.
Edney is seen getting ready for "The Shot" heard 'round the county, state and country, with 0.3 seconds left on the clock. As you can see, Mount Vernon head coach Bob Cimmino (left, fist-pumping) and staff already think the game is over.
The Shot, Part 2: Just in Time
This was the best still I could get from the video. Here we (somewhat) clearly see Edney get the shot off with 0.1 seconds left on the clock.
No Mount Vernon player is even contesting him.
The Improbable: Miracles Happen
Cue the mass pandemonium!
Edney sinks the shot, erupting bedlam in the County Center. As you'll hear in the video clip, everyone in the building was stunned—even the press section.
Again, this is where Mr. Brenkus can come in.
If Edney released the shot just slightly higher, lower, left, right, faster or slower, this shot might not have gone in. I would love to know exactly how much in any direction or speed would need to be different in order for this shot to miss.
Everything, from the inbounds pass to the final trickle through the nylon, fell into place for the Huguenots.
Incredible as it may be, this wasn't even the end of the shot...
The Deliberation: Officials Initially Wave the Basket off
(Top left) Official Bill Sacco is seen waving off the shot. (Top right) Sacco tells scoring officials they will review the shot. (Bottom left) Mount Vernon believes they have won. (Video by Mike Zacchio)
I had to zoom in a bit, but in the top left slide, you can clearly see head official Bill Sacco waving off Edney's shot as the senior celebrates. Sacco came over to tell the scorer's table that he would meet with the other two officials to determine whether or not the shot was good.
At the time, Mount Vernon was exuberant—jumping up and down thinking they had won, and for good reason. Usually when the official waves off the basket as time expires, you're in the clear.
Sacco went to meet with his colleagues, and then...
The Overturn: "The Shot" Is Born
New Rochelle celebrates the overturned call (top) as the scoreboard changes (bottom). (Video by Mike Zacchio/The Journal News)
After approximately a 20-second powwow, Sacco approaches the desk and signals the basket is good, crowning New Rochelle the new Section 1 champions.
As expected, even more pandemonium ensues following the overturned call, mostly with joy. Fans in attendance had just witnessed arguably one of the greatest high school basketball shots of all time, and now it was official.
Let's be honest, did anyone who watched the clip actually want it to be no-good?
The Dedication: Edney's Heartwarming Homage to His Late Mother
For those who don't know, Khalil Edney has tattoos on his arms in memory of his late mother, who passed away in November 2006 at the early age of 33.
Edney was already a winner, a state champion quarterback from the previous season, but upending a seven-time defending champion with this kind of shot was something special...I was there; I know.
This shot not only earned New Rochelle its first section title since 2005, when now Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice was on the team, but it allowed them to keep going in its quest for a state title.
The Huguenots went on to win the region and a state semifinal before falling in the state final. Remember, this was a .500 (9-9) team that won four games in the section tournament, clawed its way back into the section final, swept the region and made it to the state championship. Had Edney's miracle chuck not gone in, all it would have been was "a nice run" that fell short on the local level.
These three seconds were a complete momentum shift for New Rochelle, and turned the team, predominantly one senior, into overnight celebrities as the underdog everyone rooted for. When you factor all of that in, there's just no way this isn't the "Best Play" of the year.
Not taking anything away from Clowney, Jordan or Allen, but they have all made their millions or are about to. Edney will continue his athletic career next year, but in football, as a quarterback for Dean College.
High school may not be as prevalent as big-time Division I college football or the NBA, but that doesn't make his shot, or its circumstances any less impressive or downright miraculous.
The Video: Edney's 55-Foot Buzzer-Beater to Win the Section 1 Class AA Title
Finally, the video itself!