Andover's defense had been tough on Darraja Parnell all night during Friday's home boys basketball game.
As the two crosstown rival teams usually do, the Trojans and Jaguars played down the final seconds tied 47-47. Central had possession for the final shot, and Parnell was called to make something happen. Andover's defense again forced him into a tough shot that bounced off the back iron.
That's when Zane Downing stepped in to make an unbelievable play. Downing grabbed the rebound with his back to the hoop, quickly turned and put up a mid-range jumper that sank through the net for a buzzer-beating game-winning shot. Central won 49-47, with its fans storming the court in a frenzied celebration.
"I decided to turn and throw it at the basket, and it went in my favor, I guess," Downing said Friday night. "I'm still in shock a little."
"It's a great feeling. They're on Cloud 9 right now," Central coach Jesse Herrman said of his players. "There's a lot of effort that goes into every game, but that game was pretty intense out there. Both teams worked really hard out there, and to have something like happen for Zane, I couldn't be happier for him to be able to make that shot. He's a great kid."
Downing hit only one other basket all night, a 3-pointer during the first half. But this one will stick with him.
"I'm probably going to remember this one forever," Downing said. "Against Andover, my senior year at their place, it just makes it that much better with everyone there to watch it."
For the Trojans, this one hurt. Again. Central beat Andover in a triple-overtime game last year. The Trojans, though, ended the Jaguars' season during last year's sub-state final.
"It's extremely frustrating, to be honest with you," Andover's Adam DeKoning said. "...It's inexcusable to give up that offensive rebound, honestly. At the end of the game, we need to box out better than that, secure the rebound and go to overtime."
DeKoning, Andover's 6-foot-6 big man inside, scored a game-high 23 points and commanded double teams all night. But he was disappointed the Trojans, who have had close losses already this season, couldn't finish the deal.
"We went zone to try and control Adam just a little bit," Herrman said. "We did an okay job, but you're not going to stop him. He's going to get his points."
Andover had a 23-20 edge in rebounding on the night and scored nine second-chance points. But it was the final rebound that matter most. Central had seven of its 11 second-chance points in the final quarter.
"We have a lot of heart. It's been exhausting the last three games, obviously," Dekoning said, "but we're never going to give up on a game, no matter what it looks like."
Page 2 of 2 - The Jaguars had a tough night shooting the ball. With Parnell getting contested every which way, the offense struggle a little bit. But other players started stepping up and knocking down shots. Senior Christian DeYoung came alive in the second half, when he hit two 3s and scoring 12 of his team-high 15 points.
"Christian is a knockdown shooter," Herrman said. "Really, to tell you the truth, he hasn't shot as well as he can. I'm surprised when he misses."
Senior Josiah Cole also buried a pair of 3-pointers in the second half for his six points.
"Their strength is obviously inside, and our strength is outside. We got hot there and made some 3s, and that's how we got back in it," Herrman said.
Parnell finished with 10 points for Central. Zach Lock scored five points and both Brock Schaffer and Cole Taylor scored four for Central.
Ryan Bezdek scored nine points for the Trojans. Bryant Klusener scored six points, Griffin Jobe had four, Austin Brown had three and Austin Beahm had two for Andover.