SYRACUSE – The play wasn’t designed for him. The ball wasn’t supposed to be in his hands. And no one, including Jaydon Boyer, expected him to make the game-winning shot Friday night.
Sometimes seniors gotta have their moment.
Boyer caught an errant shot in the waning moments, sent his best effort up, and got the ball to swish through the hoop as the buzzer sounded on a 49-47 Wawasee boys basketball win against Goshen.
“Really all I was supposed to do was get the ball to Austin and get out to the corner,” said Boyer, who spoke like an old pro of his only two points of the night. “I saw that shot go up and I had to just go get it and put the ball back in.
“This moment has to be at the top of my list, for sure.”
Wawasee ran down the clock, and after three successive timeouts with 5.7 seconds to go, the inbounds play to Austin Miller saw the senior gunner send his shot short, setting up Boyer’s story his grandchildren will get sick of hearing about. Boyer grabbed the ball and flipped it at the hoop from about five feet, with the ball going through the iron as the horn sounded.
The fact Boyer needed to make a game-winning shot gives a big push to the rally Goshen waged to get the game to that point.
Wawasee led 33-21 after Kam Salazar converted a steal into a layup. Goshen would slowly chip away, and after a Ryan Harmelink three to end the third, Goshen was down just nine. That quickly shrunk to two after the RedHawks opened the fourth on an 8-1 run. After Wawasee turned over its next possession, Zack Barker dropped in the hoop and the harm, and shockingly, Goshen took a 39-38 lead.
The game wouldn’t have a lead more than two the rest of the way. Drew Hogan scored Goshen’s final eight points, his two free throws tying the game at 47.
“You want to talk about coming out of nowhere, he’s done that his whole career,” Wawasee head coach Jon Everingham said of Boyer. “He was a freshman without much playing time, then a sophomore more and junior to be a reserve on JV. He’s worked so hard, his attendance rate is the best in the program, he’s absolutely earned everything he’s gotten. That shot going in is tremendous for him.”
Miller was on his way to a Kobe-like performance, scoring 14 of Wawasee’s first 20 points and finishing the first half with 19 points. He slowed down in the second half, but his fifth three-pointer gave Wawasee a 43-41 lead early in the fourth. Miller finished the game with 27 points on 11-20 shooting.
Ethan Hardy ended the night with seven points, six boards, three blocks and a pair of assists.
Hogan ended with 19 points, 11 of those coming in the fourth quarter. Quinn Bechtel had 10 points.
“We figured Hogan would get his points eventually, it was just a matter of when,” Everingham said. “We played a box-and-one against him, and held him to just eight points in the first half. He just takes good shots and doesn’t force things. Sometimes you know you just can’t hold somebody down for a whole game. You just don’t want to see him explode for 30. We’ll take 19 tonight.”
The win for the Warriors meant more than just a fine finish for its seniors. Wawasee moved to 12-6 on the season, guaranteeing itself a winning season for the first time under Everingham and the first for the program since 2015. The three Northern Lakes Conference wins is the most for the program since 2011. It’s a fine feeling for the Goshen High School alum.
“I told the guys before this game, tonight was the biggest game of my coaching career,” noted Everingham. “I’ve coached over 250 games, conference championships, sectional championships. But for us to be where we were last year, two years ago, then to turn around this year and guarantee ourselves a winning record with a quarter of our season left, that’s big time. Goshen is a conference team, a top 100 Sagarin team, and that gives us a top 100 win. This game was really big for a lot of reasons, and I’m super happy for these guys.”
The JV game went to Goshen, 44-39. Deecon Hill led the RedHawks with 12 points and Isaac Sawatzky added nine points and five boards. Gavin Hunziker had nine points and five rebounds to lead the Warriors, which shot just 12-43 from the floor in the game.