The Sixth Man: Top Rebel reserve joins rare field of buzzer-beaters

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By Stefan Cooper
Sports Editor
Blount Today

Murfreesboro — Ryan Click has been the first guard off the Maryville bench all season.

Saturday night at Middle Tennessee State University, the Rebel sophomore became the sixth man of an entirely different calling.

Click became only the sixth player in the 86-year history of the boys state basketball tournament to decide a championship game with a shot at the buzzer when his 3-pointer as time expired in double overtime stunned third-ranked Clarksville, 69-66, at Murphy Center.

The Class AAA championship was the first for Maryville (30-7) in basketball. In canning the shot that made it happen, Click became one of only three players to beat the buzzer with a game-winning basket in an overtime period.

Former Alcoa great David Davis is one of the other two. Davis, who four years earlier had become the first black player to take part in the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association state tournament, stunned favored Holston with a baseline shot after three overtimes to lift the Tornadoes to the 1967 title at Stokely Athletics Center.

Maryville wasted little time letting Click know how it felt about his historic shot. The Rebels returned home early Sunday morning. Click said he first went to watch a replay of the game with a teammate.

"It sunk in when I watched it again," he said. "That’s when I realized what I’d done."

When the soft-spoken Rebel finally made it home at 6 a.m., the trees in his yard had been decorated, and a red carpet covered the walkway leading to his front door.

"Wow!" Maryville coach Mark Eldridge said. "What a shot."

Click’s game-winning basket was his only points of the tournament. He’d attempted only one other shot in the championship game, none in Maryville’s previous two games — a 73-68 quarterfinal win over fourth-ranked Bradley Central and a 65-55 semifinal decision over sixth-ranked Whites Creek.

With Maryville looking to inbound the ball to 6-foot-7 junior Aaron Douglas or 6-8 sophomore Jay Reynolds with 2.2 seconds remaining double overtime of the championship game, junior Jordan Damron was forced to his third option — and it all Clicked.

"He gave it to me. It felt good. I shot it," Click said. "I didn’t even look at the ball. I just looked at the rim."

Maryville entered state tournament play unranked, winless in its previous two appearances.

That Click would fire the shot heard ’round the world was perhaps fitting. The 2006-07 Rebels were a team of compelling balance, with a collection of players leading the scoring on given night.

Damron was one of the best. When senior and leading scorer Kent Basile collected his fifth foul in fourth quarter, fellow senior Tyler Maple his fifth in the first overtime, the junior guard let loose with a vivid display of clutch shooting and rebounding in the championship game.

Going 6-of-13 from 3-point range and 7-of-9 from the free-throw line, Damron finished with a game-high 29 points, adding 11 rebounds for an impressive double-double en route to being named the tournament’s most valuable player.

The Rebel point guard averaged 20 points per game over the course of the tournament. Maryville would also get big games from center Douglas, shooting guard Wes Lambert and Basile to bring home its first hoops crown in Eldridge’s first season as coach.

Douglas and Basile would be named to the all-tournament team along with Damron.

Reserves Will Jolly, Josh Allen, Kyle Pickle and Reynolds would each play key roles in keeping Maryville fresh over the three days.

Collectively, the Rebels stunned the state in simply reaching the championship game. Once there, anything could happen, Eldridge said.

And so it did.

© 2007 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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