It was actor Jim Carey who said, 'Desperation is a necessary ingredient to learning anything or creating anything', but it has been New Oxford High boys' basketball coach Jim Zinn who has lived it during the 2012-13 season.
Trailing 39-35 with four minutes to go in the fourth quarter on Wednesday at Spring Grove High School, New Oxford shut out the host Rockets for the remainder of the contest, and Austin Kibler knocked down two free throws with 2.2 seconds left to lift the Colonials to a 41-39 interdivisional win.
"I called a timeout there," Zinn said, "and told our guys that if we want to win, we have to bear down and play on both ends."
The Colonials (4-9, 3-4 YAIAA II) heeded their coaches' advice, and their clamp-down effort proved to be the key factor in what could best be described as a desperate finish by two teams fervently seeking a rare win."
"We've got to play all the time like it's desperation," Zinn said. "We need to leave it all on the court and leave the gym completely gassed."
New Oxford's Marc O'Brien scored four points in a row, including the game-tying put-back lay-up with 1:50 to go, and then blocked Darren Gaskins' shot at the other end a few seconds later.
Spring Grove (1-13, 0-8 YAIAA I) kept possession, but had to settle for a tough layup attempt out of a timeout.
After Zach Wildasin's rebound, the Colonials raced to the frontcourt, but O'Brien missed an uncontested layup after a baseline drive.
Gaskins hauled in the ball and brought it up for Spring Grove. Gaskins dribbled slightly inside the 3-point arc and looked to give it to a teammate, but when no one came open, he hoisted up an errant jumper.
Ross Starner grabbed his 12th rebound of the night, and Zinn called for timeout at halfcourt with 12 seconds to go.
"With 12 seconds left on the court, our guys were completely gassed," Zinn said.
Starner's 12th rebound and the 12 seconds should have been an omen for what was to come.
Off the inbound pass, the Colonials were being forced away from the basket until the ball landed in the hands of Kibler. Kibler hesitated, then drove just inside the arc and drew contact on the perimeter. Spring Grove's 10th foul put New Oxford in the double bonus.
After Kibler knocked down both shots, Spring Grove had one last chance.
Logan Hagerman took a pass and heaved up a three-quarters court shot that bounced off the backboard, then off the rim, and to the floor as the home crowd let out a collective groan.
Spring Grove trailed 13-6 in the first quarter, but it was a strong showing by the Rockets' bench that led them back into the game.
The bench outscored the Colonial bench 25-2, with the Rockets' top scoring performance coming from reserve Tyler Sheffer.
Sheffer scored 13 points, including 12 in the second half, which helped to offset the leading scorer, Hagerman, being held to six.
"We knew about Hagerman coming in," Zinn said, "and we really wanted to focus on stopping him. I thought their bench guys came in and did a good job of making jumpshots. We were trying to keep their starters out of the paint and they kicked it out."
NEW OXFORD (41)
Starner 1 3-4 5, Austin Kibler 5 2-3 12, Beans 3 0-1 6, Decinti 2 2-2 7, O'Brien 3 3-4 9, Wildasin 0 0-0 0, Ernst 1 0-0 2, Trimmer 0 0-0 0. Totals15 10-14 41.
SPRING GROVE (39)
Gordon 2 0-0 5, Miller 0 0-0 0, Spangler 1 0-0 2, Darrien Gaskins 1 2-4 4, Krause 1 1-2 3, Kline 1 0-0 2, Hagerman 3 0-1 6, Wildasin 1 0-0 2, Troxel 1 0-0 2, Tyler Sheffer 6 1-2 13. Totals17 4-9 39.
New Oxford 13 9 7 12 -- 41
Spring Grove 9 8 14 8 -- 39
3-point goals -- New Oxford 1 (Decinti); Spring Grove 1 (Gordon).
JV score -- Spring Grove 47, New Oxford 23.