Khalil Edney was toasted on national television and social media Monday as a basketball hero, but there was a brief moment when the New Rochelle High School senior tasted what life would have been like if his 55-foot buzzer-beater would not have counted a day earlier.
One referee initially ruled that Edney's shot against Mount Vernon did not leave his hands before the buzzer. After conferring, the officials overturned the call, giving the Huguenots the Section 1 Class AA championship.
At one point, however, both teams were simultaneously celebrating on the floor of the County Center in White Plains.
"My team was celebrating," Edney, who plays forward, said at a news conference Monday at New Rochelle High. "I was underneath the pile, and all I could hear was one of my assistant coaches say, 'It didn't count. It didn't count. Get up. It didn't count.' Then by the time the pile cleared out and I stood up, the refs changed their mind, and they overturned the call and said it counted.' "
With his team trailing by two points with 2.9 seconds remaining, Edney, 17, standing underneath his own basket, threw in a long inbound pass that was intercepted near midcourt. But Edney quickly stole a Mount Vernon pass and heaved the desperation shot, which gave his team an improbable 61-60 victory.
"It was an amazing feeling, the game-winner," Edney said.
In fact, Edney, who played quarterback on the school's state champion football team, still has yet to be congratulated by many of his classmates.
"I haven't been to school all day," he said. "I've been out all day doing shows ... It's been a long, long 24 hours."
Somehow, with the glare of the national spotlight shining on New Rochelle High School, the Huguenots must prepare to face Section 4 champion Binghamton in the regional semifinals at 4 p.m. Tuesday at Purchase College.
"I'm just going to take this energy and put it into practice," he said. "The media attention, once 3:15 hits, it gets pushed to the side. It's time for me to be with my team, and it's time for us to practice."
ESPN hailed Edney's miracle play as "the craziest ending to a basketball game. Ever." Duke's Seth Curry, one of college basketball's biggest stars, summed it up in a one-word tweet: "Wow!"
But a sprained right ankle almost prevented Edney from playing in the game. He suffered the injury in a scrimmage against Byram Hills on Feb. 23, and he was out of action in New Rochelle's semifinal win over Mahopac on Friday, according to MSGVarsity.com.
Edney said he initially was told he would be sidelined four-six weeks. But on Saturday, his doctor said he could play if he performed certain rehab exercises on the ankle.
Several variations of Edney's game-winning highlight could be found on YouTube, the most popular one racking up more than 1.4 million views by Monday afternoon. And Edney also saw his Twitter following jump from around 460 before the game to more than 2,100 on Monday.