Photo by Dale Garvey. Tony Miller prepares to shoot the winning free throw with 0.4 seconds left in Woodinville’s dramatic 71-70 win over Bothell on December 20th.
In the first half of Friday night’s game against Bothell, the inevitable outcome seemed as dreary as the murky skies outside the gymnasium at Woodinville High School. Bothell’s outstanding center Josh Martin was scoring at will and capped off a couple of drives with thunderous dunks that elicited oohs and ahhs from crowd. At one point, the Cougars led Woodinville 30-13.
But suddenly the Falcons strengthened their resolve. And when Tony Miller hit a free throw with 0.4 seconds left in the game, Woodinville celebrated the 71-70 win. The victory lifted the Falcons to 3-3 overall and 1-2 in KingCo play.
"This game was a big turning point for us," Woodinville coach Mark Folsom said.
After Woodinville pulled to within 37-34 at the half, the third and fourth quarters showcased much drama for the fans in attendance.
The Falcons got their first lead of the night in the third quarter, when budding star Tony Miller went sky bound to snare an offensive rebound and lay it in while getting fouled. His subsequent free throw staked Woodinville to a 51-49 advantage.
With 0:46 left in the game, Falcon point guard Tommy Wick drove hard to the paint and made a lay-up, pushing Woodinville ahead 70-68. But as Wick landed awkwardly on his right foot, he collapsed in a heap with multiple fractures to his right leg.
During a 20-minute delay, medics and trainers tended to Wick as the gymnasium crowd settled into a fidgeting murmur. At one point, Wick looked up at the hovering Tony Miller and asked the team to win the game for him.
As Wick was carted off the court to a standing ovation, play resumed. Bothell got a basket to tie it up at 70-70, then gained possession again with seconds left.
As the Cougars advanced toward midcourt, Woodinville’s Ryan Gregor intercepted the ball near the sideline and threw a no-look pass in the direction of Tony Miller.
"I just went outside of (the Bothell player) and got in front of it," Gregor said. "I knew Tony was running back there and I just threw it and hoped he would be able to get it."
Miller did get it and promptly drove toward the basket, drawing a foul with 0.4 seconds left.
A moment later, Miller stepped to the foul line with every eye in the gym upon him. He missed the first attempt, but knocked down the second, sparking the crowd to erupt in joy.
Seconds later the game was over, and fans stormed the court and swarmed around Miller and the other Falcon players.
"This group of kids is extremely focused," Folsom said. "I know at times it hasn’t shown on the floor. But they have worked harder than any group I’ve seen or been a part of this off season ... My hope is that this game gives us the confidence that we need. This is a group of kids that can compete with anybody in the state."
When asked about Miller’s stellar performance, Folsom smiled.
"Tony is a special kid," he said. "He is very driven. He has spent more time working on his game this off season than anyone in the state. This kid has big goals and not just for himself. The special thing I like about Tony is that he is determined to change the face of this program. He is determined to let people know you don’t come to Woodinville and get easy Ws. This is a tough place to play. We’re going to be tough guys, and we’re not going to allow teams to walk all over us. And I thought tonight was a great example of showing a level toughness that I’m not sure this program has shown since I’ve been here."