TRAVERSE CITY — When the ball left Tyler Pintar's hands right before the final buzzer, his half-court heave looked good.
Traverse City Central boys basketball head coach Jeff Turner thought it was good, too.
But Pintar's potential game-winning shot hit off the front of the rim as time ran out and bounced to the floor, giving the Trojans a 64-62 victory over the Wildcats on Friday at the Central High School gym. (VIDEO: Below, the athletes on the 2013-14 Traverse City Central boys basketball team introduce themselves to northern Michigan sports fans in this video roster.)
"He's a pretty good athlete," Turner said of Pintar, Alpena's junior point guard. "We really respect him a lot. We knew the ball was going to be in his hands. He's a gamer. We didn't want him to have forward motion. We wanted him to catch it going the other way. We were just, 'alright, here we go.' Obviously, glad it didn't go in, but it was close. From where I was sitting I was like, 'well, it's in.' So when it hit the front of the rim and didn't go in I ended up breathing a sigh of relief."
The Trojans (1-1) had to fight until the final seconds despite leading by as many as nine points early in the fourth quarter and by four with 15 seconds to go. After Alpena's Andy Marwede scored on a putback with 5.9 seconds left to cut the margin to two points, Central missed the front end of a 1-and-1. A held ball on the miss gave the ball to Alpena with 2.8 seconds left to set up Pintar's final shot.
Nate Schlusler led Central with 15 points, including a buzzer-beating three-pointer at the end of the first half. Zach Egbert added 12 points and Max Knoblock 10.