GLENS FALLS — Jamestown was in control for nearly all of Saturday afternoon’s Class AA state semifinal. But with 2.2 seconds left, all it could do was watch.
Jamestown was up one and Union-Endicott was at the line. The two free throws would very likely determine if the Red Raiders would win, lose, or head to overtime.
Miss. Timeout. Miss.
Jamestown will play for the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Class AA championship today after a 64-63 victory that included another outstanding performance by junior guard Zack Panebianco. The triumph was secured only after several agonizing moments as Union-Endicott senior Osama Barwari missed both of those free throws.
“That was probably the craziest two minutes of my life right there,” said Jamestown senior forward Quinn Lee Yaw. “During the free throws, I was the most nervous … and after he missed both of them, I became the happiest. It’s just a great win for us.”
The Red Raiders (20-3) will play Albany charter school Green Tech (18-4) today at 3:15 in the AA title game (Time Warner Cable SportsChannel) at the Glens Falls Civic Center. It is Jamestown’s second in the last four years after losing the title game to Mount Vernon in 2011.
“I don’t know if I’ve ever been a part of a game that had so many things happen, back and forth, in the last minute of a game, especially for it to happen in a state semifinal — I’m not even sure exactly what happened at the end of the game,” said Jamestown coach Ben Drake, who appeared uncharacteristically shaken.
“We seemingly had control of the game and all we needed to do is be strong with the ball, and get the ball to Zack, and make some free throws and the game is ours. … We hung on. You know, survive and advance, and now we play tomorrow for a state championship.”
The 5-foot-10 Panebianco had another outstanding state playoff performance, scoring 31 points a week after a 34-point effort led the Red Raiders past Greece-Athena in the Far West Regionals. Panebianco hit 9 of 18 shots, was 4 of 10 from three-point range and was 9 of 14 at the line.
Barwari had an outstanding steal of an inbound pass by Jamestown from under its own basket, with his layup tying the game at 63-63 with about 12 seconds left. Jamestown inbounded the ball to Panebianco, who was fouled with 9 seconds to go.
He hit his first free throw, but missed the second, and U-E rushed upcourt and Barwari drove down the lane and was fouled while his shot went off the rim. With a chance to tie the game, his first bounced off the back iron.
Then Drake called timeout.
“Mainly it was to ice him because I wanted him to think about that first miss and think about having to come back and knock down that second free throw,” said Drake. “And also we had 2.2 seconds left, which is a lot of time, so I wanted to draw up a play so that if he did knock it down, we could try and get a last-second shot.”
The second free throw was short, rebounded by Jamestown, and time expired.
Union-Endicott deserved to be on the cusp of victory as it kept coming at Jamestown, with senior backcourt mates C.J. Krakowiak (30 points) and Barwari (17) leading the way, as they did in last week’s state-wide stunner of power Mount Vernon in the regionals. Meanwhile, the Tigers’ constant double- and triple-teams on Panebianco and Lee Yaw (15 points, 10 rebounds) were more and more effective as the game went on.
In the fourth quarter, Jamestown got a big three-pointer by sophomore Zacc Kinsey (eight points, two steals) and a putback rebound off a missed free throw by junior Ben Larson (five). Kinsey also had a layup in the final minute to give Jamestown a five-point lead out of a timeout.
Green Tech, whose varsity program is in just its fourth year of existence, beat Brentwood of Long Island, 52-44, in a tightly played second semifinal Saturday.
Najee Ward, a 6-1 senior guard, had 15 points. Isiah Dobere, a 6-1 junior guard, had 12, and 6-5 senior Ramion Burt had 11.