From the Bench: Revisiting the Biggest Shot (I've Ever Seen) in Bridgeport High Boys Basketball History
Editor's Note: With the state boys basketball tournament now in the books, I revisited this two-plus year-old blog that I wrote following a regular season game involving Bridgeport and Roberty C. Byrd that drew a ton of comments and friendly debate. It's only been slightly revised and remember, this is the writer's opinion so if you disagree please list your memory in the comment section below. There are no wrong opinions.
As I watched a regular season game involving Bridgeport's boys’ basketball team with Robert C. Byrd back in 2015, it was impressive to watch then newcomer Nick Greely’s 14-point outburst over a roughly four-minute period that turned a game that was very close in one that appeared to be a beating. As I watched Greely take over, I thought back to other key moments in BHS basketball history.
In short order, I wasn’t thinking about the greatest performance I had witnessed. Honestly, there have been so many in so many unique ways that it might take a series of blogs to figure that out.
Eventually, the thoughts left my head. But after leaving the Benedum Civic Center that evening once I had filed my story, my thoughts started up again shortly after starting my car around 11 p.m. As it turned out, I started thinking about the biggest shot in Bridgeport basketball history – and I should say the biggest shot I’ve ever witnessed in Bridgeport basketball history.
Since I had just returned from the BHS-RCB game, I thought back to the early 2000s to another game that the Indians and the Eagles were tangled up in and the contest was in overtime. I may have this wrong, but I believe that Bridgeport was leading and with the ball as time was winding down when Robert C. Byrd guard Migel Lockett, among the fastest guards I’ve ever witnessed, stole the ball. From just in front of the scorer’s table, he took off and drove in for what appeared to be a game-winning layup just ahead of the overtime buzzer.
Unfortunately, it would be the one time that Lockett’s speed worked to an opponent’s advantage. He got to the basket so fast it left time on the clock and Bridgeport’s Nick Carbacio made the Eagles pay. Carbacio ended up taking the inbounds with maybe one, maybe two seconds left and – I think he dribbled once – and let it fly well beyond half court.
The ball hung in the air before ripping the nets. It also ripped the heart out of the RCB faithful. To me, that was the biggest shot on the BHS end (Andrew Denny’s game-winning 3-pointer against the Indians’ in Bryant Irwin’s senior year at RCB is the one I remember that went the Eagles’ way) of its ongoing rivalry with the Eagles.
That will rank as the biggest regular season shot ever that I’ve witnessed by a Bridgeport player. As for the biggest in any circumstance, you’ve got to back a few decades. In fact, you have to go back to March of 1993 and into the spacious confines of the Charleston Civic Center.
The Indians were looking to win their first-ever state championship under long-time coach Bill Kerns. Battling a talented Ravenswood squad, Bridgeport found itself down 38-36 with 8.6 seconds remaining.
What happened next is the biggest single shot I’ve ever seen made by a player wearing a Bridgeport uniform. And here’s how Bill Kerns described it as the ball found its way into the hands of his son Matt – who just happened to the captain of the Class AA All State team that year.
“We were taking the ball out underneath our basket and we set up a play to run a shot through Matt. If it wasn’t there, we were going to go to Russ (Sickles) or Chris (Taylor) underneath. They were in a 2-3 and the top two guards were playing tight,” Kerns said. “Matt threw it in to the right side there was nothing there. He circled around quickly to the key and they swung it to him. He jabbed to the left and went to the right before going up. He hit it.”
The shot was right in front of me in my press row seat. It not only was a difficult shot, but it was at a tough angle with defense draped on him.
Did I mention that the officials not only signaled a good basket, but a 3-pointer as well, which gave Bridgeport the lead? Yea, that happened as well and led Ravenswood to call a timeout to argue whether Matt Kerns’ shot was behind the 3-pointline. The only problem was that Ravenswood was out of timeouts and a technical foul was assessed.
Game. Set. Match.
So what you had was a game-winning shot, defense in the player’s face, a difficult shot, a crowd of probably about 7,000 on hand, and – for biggest impact – the shot put the Indians’ into the state title game. And the Indians would win the state championship with a 59-50 win over Oceana.
I’ll state it again: the biggest shot I’ve ever seen made by a Bridgeport player. Since I’ve not see every game in BHS history, there may be others. Feel free to add your own thoughts in the comment section below. The ball is in your court – pun intended.