The charging call will fade. The shot will live forever.
Ryan Click saw his high school basketball career come full circle Tuesday night. The Maryville High School guard was called for charging with 24 seconds remaining in a Region 2AAA semifinal game with Oak Ridge at West High. The Rebels were clinging to a one-point lead at the time.
With 1.3 seconds remaining, Maryville now down by two, Click was whistled for charging yet again, effectively sending the Wildcats on to the region championship game with a 58-54 win. The loss ended the season for the Rebels, the last Blount County team, boys or girls, left standing.
It was a tough way to end things for a Rebel team who only two years ago brought home one of the most miraculous state titles in county history. Click, who finished with a team-high 23 points on five 3-pointers Tuesday, was a member of that team as was fellow senior Jay Reynolds, who battled early foul trouble against the Wildcats en route to finishing with 11 points.
Maryville knocked off three ranked opponents at the 2007 state tournament to collect the school’s lone basketball championship. At the end of double overtime in the title game, Click faded away to bury the only shot he would hit in the tournament, his 3-pointer as the horn sounded, stunning Clarksville, 69-66, to secure for the Rebels the title.
That memorable trip to Murfreesboro came during Mark Eldridge’s first season as Maryville coach.
“I would love for them to have gotten back down there because they’re such good kids,” he said. “We just didn’t get it done.”
The Rebels struggled for much of the game Tuesday. The 10- and 15-foot medium range shots they routinely buried bounced timidly off the iron, Eldridge said. Reynolds was limited with foul trouble and would foul out in the final minute. Click and Reynolds would be the only Rebels to reach double figures, with guard Alex Tipton adding six points on a pair of 3-pointers.
Maryville scrapped through it all to make a game of it in the closing minutes. Back-to-back 3s from Tipton and Click and a slashing drive to the basket from Cameron Langley put the Rebels out front, 48-47, with four minutes left. Click’s final trey a minute later answered one from the Wildcats to maintain the one-point edge.
Maryville could not have asked for a better scenario in the closing seconds, Eldridge said. The Rebels had the lead, however slim, and the ball in the hands of their best player. Oak Ridge was on the ropes. Click saw an opening to the basket and made his move.
Should he take the shot?
Should he pull the ball out?
“That’s always a tough position,” Eldridge said.
Two years ago, as he did on Tuesday, Click decided the best course of action was to put the ball up and have a go. It isn’t making the big shot that defines a clutch player. It’s the willingness to take the shot in the first place.
While that approach didn’t work out so well Tuesday, two years ago it was absolutely magic.