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Orem • When American Fork guard Brayden Harris realized what he'd done, his shoulders drooped and he buried his face in his hands.
Minutes later, though, after an improbable series of events in the final 4 seconds of the game, Harris' unfortunate mistake was transformed into a minor footnote in a signature 65-63 win for the Caveman against Overland (Colo.) on Friday, the second day of Orem's Great Western Shootout.
It all began late in the fourth quarter, after a Brendan Bailey 3-pointer for the Cavemen tied the game at 63-63 with 4 seconds left. The Trailblazers would have to push the ball up the court and hope to get off a good look to avoid overtime.
But then Harris mistakenly fouled an Overland guard on the inbound. A stunned crowd looked on in confusion as the whistle blew. The Trailblazers would have a one-and-one to take the lead and likely the game.
"I told him to tell everybody, 'Meacham told me to foul,'" American Fork coach Doug Meacham said after the game. "It's preseason. He'll learn that you go over scenarios in your mind time, score. I love the fact he's trying to make a play. That's just basketball."
Cavemen star big-man Ryan Andrus told it like this: "All of a sudden, I hear a whistle. Brayden fouls. I'm pissed out of my mind. Nobody knows what's going on."
What happened next was more improbable than what came before it. The Trailblazers missed the front end of the one-and-one, and the Cavemen snagged the rebound and moved the ball quickly up the court.
Bailey missed a heave off the glass from inside the wing, but Andrus was trailing. The senior tipped the ball in just before the blare of the buzzer and just ahead of the meaty paw of Overland star De'Ron Davis.
The small contingent of American Fork students exploded from the north stands and mobbed Andrus, Bailey and Harris, along with the rest of the Caveman, at the center of the floor in what was perhaps the season's first rushing of the court.
"We know with 4 seconds left, we've got to push it up the floor as fast as we can," said Andrus, who had a 12 points and 13 rebounds. "I honestly didn't think there was time left to put it back, but I lay it up and the buzzer goes off. Fun win."
After losing a game Thursday that they led late against last year's Colorado Class 5A runner-up, Denver East, another blown chance to snag a win against an elite team could have been disheartening for the Cavemen.
The Cavemen instead did what they could not the night before and found a way to win. And if they're as good as they believe they can be, it won't be their last marquee win on a big stage this year.
"It's just like the state tournament you've got one game, then another the next day," Andrus said. "To be able to bounce back like that is huge. ... It boosts your confidence."
American Fork 65, Overland (Colo.) 63
O Ryan Andrus' put-back just before the horn lifts the Cavemen to victory.