GRAFTON — Midview needed a miracle shot and Mike Mercado provided it.
Trailing by three with 6.4 seconds left, Mercado brought the ball up court through the Amherst defense and nailed a 3-point basket at the buzzer to send the game into overtime.
Buoyed by the shot the Middies responded with a 71-67 victory over the Comets in the nightcap of the 8th Annual Bob DiFranco Memorial Holiday Basketball Tournament Thursday night.
Midview will face Southview, also an overtime winner, in Saturday’s championship game.
If not for Mercado’s heroics, Amherst would be playing in the title game.
“It’s the biggest shot of our season,” said Midview coach Troy DiFranco. “We try to do different (situational) things in practice, but that one was Mike. He created it; all the credit goes to him.”
“It was the last second. I had to take it,” said Mercado, one of five Middies who scored in double figures. I just dribbled through the defense. You have to rise above the defense and hope it goes in. I try to shoot it with confidence as the coaches tell me.”
Mercado, a 5-foot-9 junior, got a pick from Brad Gross at the mid-court line which cleared him to dribble to the top of the arc. The lefty left it fly.
“Everything went still for a bit,” Mercado said. “It felt good, but I didn’t know (it was in). It (the basket) felt great. I’ll remember this forever.”
Midview spent most of the evening trying to dig itself out of an early hole. The Middies scored the game’s first three points, then gave up a 13-point run to the Comets in less than 3 ½ minutes. The Middies sank only two of 10 shots in the quarter.
They stayed in the game because Amherst was whistled for eight fouls in the first eight minutes and 13 in the half. The Middies made eight of 12 from the line or the six-point halftime deficit would’ve been larger.
In the second half the Comets started turning the ball over—10 in the quarter—and Midview capitalized to take a 39-34 lead midway through the period. But Amherst wouldn’t die. The Comets shot the ball well all night—49 percent from the floor and 79 from the line—and regained a one-point lead after three periods.
In the fourth quarter Ryan Rua scored seven of his game-high 22 points, including the basket that broke a 56-all tie with 2:15 left. Four free throws by Jake Diaz, two by Adam Crnobrnja and one by Brandon Coulter pushed the Comets into a 65-62 lead.
But Mercado’s basket squared it.
Ad driving basket by Gross put the Middies ahead to stay in the extra session.
“We’ve been through some tough games,” Mercado said. “We’ve stayed together. That’s a good sign.”
“I hope we can build off that,” DiFranco said. “We played hard; we went after loose balls. I’m proud of their effort.”
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Midview 71, Amherst 67
AMHERST (67): Jon Elliott 1-0-2, Adam Crnobrnja 1-4-6, Steve Williams 5-1-11, Ryan Rua 9-1-19, Jake Diaz 1-6-9, Brandon Coulter 1-1-3, Alex Endrai 3-2-10, Nick Diaa 0-0-0, Conner Weir 2-0-4, Kyle Jacobs 0-0-0. Totals 23-15-67.
MIDVIEW (71): Derek Haney 4-2-10, Brad Gross 6-0-12, Nick Clark 4-7-15, Mike Mercado 5-1-13, Kevin Allen 0-0-0, Jordan English 1-1-3, Justin Casselle 3-5-12, Tim Jaykel 0-0-0, Matt Borsz 0-0-0, Josh Wells 2-0-4, Jacob Klamut 1-0-2, Cody Gunselman 0-0-0, John Fernandez 0-0-0. Totals 26-16-71.
Amherst 13 17 14 21 2 — 67
Midview 7 17 19 22 6 — 71
Three-point goals: Midview (3-5) Mercado 2, Casselle, Amherst (6-15) Rua 3, J. Diaz, Endrai 2; Rebounding: Midview 33 (Clark 13), Amherst 28 (Crnobrnja 6); Turnovers: Midview 15, Amherst 25; Fouls: Midview 23, Amherst 23 Fouled Out: Williams; Field Goal Shooting: Midview 26 of 53 (49 percent), Amherst 23 of 47 (48.9 percent); Free Throw Shooing: Midview 16 of 25 (64 percent), Amherst 15 of 19 (78.9 percent).