Center Eric Hunsicker worked his way under the basket in the final seconds, and banked in the game-wining shot as host Petaluma upset the second-place Piner Prospectors, 54-50, in an exciting Sonoma County League contest Friday night.
The steadily more competitive Trojans had led from the opening basket, but a gut-wrenching 3-point shot by Marquis Camp of Piner knotted the game at 50-50 with only 10 seconds remaining.
Petaluma worked the ball to the left side of the floor with time running down, and got it to the inside to Hunsicker, who maneuvered for good position on the low block. The poised senior pump-faked and softly laid the ball in off the glass with only 0.9 of a second remaining to the wild approval of the partisan crowd in the Trojan gym.
Piner coach Mike Erickson quickly called time out for one desperation play for his team, but a frantic length-of-the floor pass sailed harmlessly out of bounds with no time lost. Petaluma lined up under its own basket only having to inbound to run out the clock and Hunsicker knocked in another basket for good measure at the buzzer.
There wasn't anything fancy about the Trojan win, as they led from an opening 3-pointer by Jaymes Potts, and the team never eased up on the throttle until the final heroics by Hunsicker. The Trojans didn't use any defensive tricks, but got the job done with old-fashioned man defense at mid-court. Both teams got the most out of a set offensive style, and it proved to be a crowd pleaser that delighted the Trojan faithful, as Petaluma notched its first victory over a team with a winning record.
Only once, late in the game, was there a number of turnovers by either team, and they came as a result of a late-game press by Piner.
Petaluma held a 30-23 advantage at halftime and grimly held on to the lead until the long shot from well behind the arc by Camp almost drained all the energy out of the gym.
Dependable guard Clay Swanson carried the early scoring load for the Trojans with 13 first-half points, including a couple of well-executed back door cuts. The Prospectors targeted Swanson in the second half, crowding him on each ball possession. The high-scoring senior finished with 15 to tie Hunsicker for game honors.
First year Trojan coach John Behrs got a productive rotation going throughout the game, with almost everyone contributing. Senior Bryce Kawaguchi earned extended time on the floor with a couple of key hoops, two free throws and controlled ball handling.
The Trojans (2-6 in league) evened the season series with Piner at 1-1 after an earlier 65-58 defeat in Santa Rosa.
Piner (4-2) came into the contest with four victories in its last five games, but the Prospectors were slow warming to the task, and trailed at every break. Keith Adams led the way for Piner with 12 points, followed by Natbu Hezghias, who tossed in 10.
The Prospectors had an edge in team quickness, but Petaluma was able to close off everything underneath with strong board work by Hunsicker and Potts. The ability of the Trojans to get the ball to the low block when it counted made the difference.
Petaluma wound up with seven second-chance shot attempts, while limiting Piner to one shot per possession almost every time down the floor.