Mainland's Johnny Brown was the hero the night of Friday, Jan. 19, as he sank a layup at the buzzer to beat rival Atlantic 58-56.
In a quiet, tucked-away hallway at Mainland High School, Buccaneers forward Johnny Brown finds a moment to escape from the thick, suffocating crowd of excited fans following the Buccaneers’ game against powerhouse program Atlantic. In this nearly deserted section of hallway, Brown can begin to relax. A couple of friends and coaches surround him. They high-five him. They joke with him. They hug him.
The night has been a blur —a whirlwind of emotions — for Brown.
A few minutes earlier was pandemonium.
With 17 seconds remaining and the game tied at 56, Mainland guard Taron Keith dribbled the ball up the court. With 10 seconds remaining, Brown set a screen for Keith, who was trapped by a pair of Sharks defenders. With fives seconds remaining, Keith desperately flung the ball to teammate Deyonte Tucker, who quickly shuffled the ball to Brown, who stood alone under the basket. The ball left Brown’s left hand, kissed the backboard and sank through the hoop as the game clock expired to beat Atlantic 58-56 on the night of Friday, Jan. 19, at Mainland High School.
The last thing Brown remembers is the fans storming the court. And nearly 20 minutes after the game, he’s still speechless.
“I’ve never felt that ever in my life,” said Brown, who scored all 14 of his points in the second half. “It was crazy. That’s something I’m going to remember for my entire life — always.”
The Days of Old
Looking up into the stands, Mainland coach Joe Giddens has flashbacks to his days as a Buccaneers basketball player. The gym was stuffed to the brim. Fans packed the bleachers like sardines. The excess were forced to stand.
It reminded Giddens of his days running up and down the court with the likes of T.T. Toliver and NBA legend Vince Carter.
It reminded him of the Buccaneers’ championship years — their glory years.
It reminded him of what Mainland basketball once was — and what it could be again.
“It used to be standing room only,” Giddens said. “This is how basketball should be. I wish every game could be like this.”
Brown likes his team’s chances of returning to greatness once again.
“Like my coach says: We've got that chicken, and it’s cooking. It ain’t fully done, but it’s cooking,” he said. “That means that game by game, we’re slowly progressing. We’re not there yet, but we’re going to be.”