Justin Jenkins went from goat to hero in 1.2 seconds Tuesday afternoon.
The Wings senior guard missed the front end of a one-and-one bonus with 13.4 seconds left and watched John F. Kennedy’s Louis Baltazar drive over him for what appeared to be the winning basket.
The clock ran to 0.0 and the crowd at Kennedy stormed the court in a frenzied celebration.
However, the game wasn’t over just yet.
“I was feeling down because I missed a free throw before that, then he scored a layup to put them up,” Jenkins said. “Their whole crowd is happy. When they put 1.2 seconds up, I just like it was my chance to take a shot.”
Jenkins made the most of that chance, burying a corner 3-pointer at the buzzer to lift Wings to a dramatic 55-53 win at John F. Kennedy.
“Everyone says I have a quick release,” Jenkins said. “I was confident in my shot. It was like a regular shot, just a little faster than normal and more pressure.”
While Jaequan Brown called timeout as soon as Baltazar’s layup went through the hoop, the clock didn’t stop immediately and the time ran out, resulting in a wild celebration on the court.
“It was just confusing, heartbreaking because I thought the game was over and we took our first [league] loss of the season,” Brown said.
Once order was restored, 1.2 seconds was put back on the clock and Wings coach Billy Turnage called on junior forward Davonne Ragin, a quarterback when he was younger, to take the long inbound.
He fired a strike to Steven Gomez, who immediately called timeout with 0.8 seconds left. As Wings huddled for one last time, Jenkins made it known that he wanted the ball in his hands.
“We have an inbound play that we run in end of quarter, end of game situations and he said he wanted it,” Turnage said. “I didn’t see any reason why not to give it to him.”
Jenkins ran along the baseline, curling off screens from Damien (Panic) Davis and Gomez and took Brown’s pass in the corner by the Wings bench. He quickly caught, shot and then it was Wings celebrating a huge road win.
“It felt so great,” Brown said. “I never felt like that in my life. I can’t get over this. I’m going to think about this all night. I might not be able to go to sleep.”
Jenkins, who last week received scholarship offers from St. Peter’s, LIU and Fairfield, finished with a game-high 22 points, cementing his spot among the city’s elite, according to Turnage.
“I tell you this, I hear all this talk about every other kid in the city being a Player of the Year candidate except for this young man right here,” he said. “I think it’s time people start putting him in that mix.”
For a while it seemed that Wings (17-2), ranked No. 5 in New York City by MSG Varsity, would cruise to an easy win as they held JFK (11-6) scoreless in the second quarter and went on a 27-0 run to take a 34-15 lead early in the third quarter.
However, the Knights roared back and pulled within three on a pair of free throws by David Hardy, who scored a team-high 18 points, with 1:09 left in the fourth quarter. It was then one on a putback by Bashir Mohammed with 35 seconds left.
JFK took its first lead since early in the second quarter on Baltazar’s clutch layup with 1.2 seconds left. But then Jenkins did what he does best.
“To me, he’s a big-time player,” Brown said. “He takes big shots like Kobe, LeBron, Carmelo, Kevin Durant.”
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