With one shot, sophomore Ethan Underwood created a lifetime memory on the biggest stage for a high school basketball player.
Underwood's desperation 30-footer, released just as the buzzer sounded, lifted Horizon Christian of San Diego to an improbable 47-46 win over St. Joseph's Notre Dame of Alameda in the CIF State Division V boys championship game Friday afternoon at Sleep Train Arena.
It looked like a game that St. Joesph's had in the bag moments before.
The Pilots led 46-39 with 14.7 seconds to play.
But Underwood hit a three-pointer, Darren Carrington scored on a driving layup nine seconds later sandwiched between four missed free throws by St. Joseph's, the latter two coming with 3.6 seconds to play.
The 6-foot-3 Carrington, an Oregon football recruit, rebounded and, with no timeouts remaining, decided to ignore the play his coach had drawn up earlier.
He passed to Underwood instead of Ethan's older brother Cody, who was supposed to take the shot. Ethan took two quick dribbles and let fly from well above the top of the key as St. Joseph's 6-6 Temidayo Yussuf charged at him.
"I couldn't see because the guy closing in on me was really tall," Ethan Underwood said. "But once I heard my teammates scream, that's when I knew it was in."
High school players often shoot poorly in the expansive atmosphere of the Kings' arena, but the 6-foot, baby-faced Underwood thrived. He had 15 points on 6 of 9 shooting, including 3 of 4 three-pointers.
"We had the ball in the right hands," said Horizon coach Tyrone Hopkins. "He's never been afraid to take the big shot."
But it was the fast and aggressive Carrington who helped keep Horizon in the game.
He had team highs of 17 points and 14 rebounds as the tallest player to try and counteract Yussuf, who finished with a game-high 20 points and a D-V boys record 19 rebounds.
Underwood's shot left the St. Joseph's large contingent of rooters stunned, the players inconsolate and veteran coach Don Lippi philosophical.
Lippi, who has won 726 games, said he had never lost a game at the buzzer, other than in summer league, in a career dating back to 1980.
"They've done everything I asked them do, and then a 30-foot throw wins the game," Lippi said of his players. "But that's why they call it March Madness. That thing could have flown off. If he shoots that 100 times, he misses 90 times or 80 of them. This one he made. You've got to give him credit for that."
It was Horizon's fourth state championship, having won previously in 2002, 2003 and 2006 at D-IV.
It was the second season in a row that the Pilots, who have been in a Northern California boys best nine state finals, lost in the state championship after winning in 2011.