By HOWARD SENZELL
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
WINDSOR — Six-foot-6 Jon Christy, the tallest player on the court, tipped in the game-winner at the buzzer Wednesday night as visiting Casa Grande defeated Windsor, 52-50.
Christy rebounded a missed 3-pointer by Cetrick Yeanay and his shot bounced off the rim twice before settling in the hoop. “That’s the first time I’ve hit a game-winning shot,” the sophomore said. “I’ve dreamed about it, but this is the first time it’s happened.”
Christy was mobbed on the court by his teammates as the Windsor players and the home crowd watched on in stunned silence.
It looked like the game might go to overtime after Adam Garcia made two free throws to pull Windsor even at 50 with 27 seconds remaining. At that point, Casa coach James Forni called time-out and drew up a play calling for Yeanay to come off a screen and put up a shot.
“Cetrick is our best shooter, so I wanted the ball in his hands,” Forni said. “However, Windsor played such great defense that he couldn’t get open and wound up putting up a 3 in traffic.”
While Yeanay was working with the ball to get a shot, Christy calmly moved under the basket for a possible rebound.
“Cetrick’s shot bounced off the rim and I went up in the air,” Christy said. “The ball came down right in my hand and I tipped it back up. After it bounced off the rim once, I said to myself ‘please go in’ and after the next bounce that’s what it did.”
The Gauchos led 50-45 with a minute remaining. However, Casey Myers narrowed the gap to two with a 3-pointer and then Garcia stole the ball and made two free throws after being fouled by Jake Ielmorini.
It was a tight game all the way. Casa enjoyed a five-point lead twice, once in the first quarter and then in the final minute. In the final quarter, the score was tied five times and the lead changed hands five times.
“This one was a tough one to swallow,” Windsor coach Travis Taylor said. “On that last possession, we played excellent defense on Yeanay but didn’t get the rebound. We get the rebound and the game goes to overtime.
“We missed some shots we should’ve made and we turned the ball over more times than we should’ve. Still, everything considered, I felt my team played as hard as they could and that’s what I told them.
“I’ve won games at the buzzer, but it still hurts to lose one like this.”
Yeanay was the game’s leading scorer with 19. The junior scored 15 of those points after intermission. Michael Basich was shadowing him in the first half, but he was forced out of the game with a leg injury.
Christy was the other Gaucho to finish in double figures. The 210-pounder finished with 12. He also was the game’s top rebounder with eight.
Myers and Garcia led Windsor with 17 apiece.
Casa shot 48 percent from the field (19-of-40) while Windsor finished at 25 percent (14- of-55). The Jaguars connected on 17 of 26 foul shots while Casa converted 11 of 23.
Both teams are now 8-7. The Gauchos are 1-2 in league and host Ukiah on Friday. The Jaguars sport a 2-1 NBL record and visit Montgomery on Friday.
Forni was going to enjoy the last-second victory before thinking about Ukiah.
“It’s games like this that give coaches gray hair,” he said. “But when you win one at the buzzer, it also makes you very happy.”