Eminem seemed to implore Pierson basketball during its timeout with 18.6 seconds left to play in the Class C boys basketball final Monday against top-seeded Stony Brook. "You only get one shot,'' the PA speakers blared. "Do not miss your chance to blow.''
Well, this was Forrest Loesch's shot: a desperation pass from a triple-teamed Joey Butts -- the guy who was supposed to attempt the game-winning basket -- and an all-or-nothing buzzer-beating bid from the left wing.
The shot went up and Loesch, a sophomore whose previous three-point attempt hit nothing but air, brought the house down as No. 2 Pierson defeated the Bears, 34-32, to clinch its first championship since 1994. Pierson will play Nassau Class C champion East Rockaway in the regional semifinal at 5 p.m. March 6 at Farmingdale State.
"Forrest had an airball before, so he wasn't the ideal shooter,'' coach Dan White said of the broken play. "I didn't say, 'Forrest, let it fly.' ''
Pierson (12-7) had a hard time finding the basket through most of the third quarter, as its 23-17 halftime lead evaporated while being outscored 12-5 in the third. The Bears scored five straight points in the final 1:41 of the period, including Tyler Abrahamsen's shot clock-beating three-pointer with two seconds to go.
With 1:44 left in the game, Marco Masakayan hit both ends of a one-and-one to give Stony Brook (11-7) the 32-31 lead.
"We just weren't scoring,'' said Loesch, who had 10 points. "Our defense stayed solid . . . but I missed a three and a layup.''
Mostly, White said, Pierson was mismatched in a number of positions. The Whalers lost their previous meeting with Stony Brook by 25 points and "We had problems all over,'' White said. "Richard Armand is so fast . . . and Jerome Washington is huge. The first time we got killed . . . so we switched to a matchup zone. We played behind Washington and hoped he didn't kill us inside, which he didn't.''
The move meant that Stony Brook was stuck going to the perimeter more, where it struggled to execute, though Abrahamsen sank four three-pointers.
It all set the stage for Loesch's big moment, one that he still was processing long after the game was over.
"I can't believe it happened,'' he said. "I still can't believe it.''
Is there any better feeling?
"Nothing,'' he said.
To quote Eminem: "This opportunity comes only once in a lifetime.''