With six-and-half seconds left in the game, down by two, who are you going to give the ball to? Jalen Smith? Justin Washington? Jamesson Etienne?
How about a lanky sophomore who spent most of the season on the JV squad?
According to Batavia Blue Devils Head Coach Buddy Brasky, Jeff Redband was always part of the plan.
"He's the second best shooter on the team," Brasky said. "I don't care what grade he's in."
For most of the night, the Far West Regional Championship game between Batavia, the #9 Class B seed in the state, against the #1 ranked Olean Huskies, was a prototypical seesaw.
Batavia took an early lead; Olean tied it up. Batavia jumped out in front again to lead at the half, and Olean looked like they were about to put the game out of reach in the third quarter, scoring 21 points against Batavia's 10.
The fourth quarter, though, the fourth quarter belonged to Batavia, who outscored the Huskies 20-12.
"It's all about defense," said junior guard Jake Brasky. "In the beginning of the fourth quarter, we came out, we made a statement. We shut them down."
Even with the Huskies' taking fewer shots and missing the chances they got, Batavia had to claw back from what at one point was a 12-point deficit.
That meant that with less then a minute to go, the game was notched at 60 apiece.
Wil Bathurst, Olean's leading scorer on the season, out maneuvered Redband on a lay-up to put the Huskies up by two.
As the Blue Devils hustled the ball down the court, a missed pass sent the ball bounding back toward Olean's goal.
Washington stumbled after the ball as he got tangled up with a Huskie. Redband sprinted down the court and managed to nab the ball before it went out of bounds.
Coach Brasky called a time out.
That's when he layed out the plan: Washington would bring the ball down the court and head for the basket. If he found a lane, he could go in for the shot, but if his path was blocked, he was told to pass it to Redband waiting in the near-side corner.
"I knew they would be all over Jalen," Brasky said. "They would not let Jalen get the last shot."
As Washington headed toward the basket, Olean's Patrick Scholla stepped in his way. Washington started to fall and he shoved the ball in the general direction of Redband, who was ready, right in the spot Brasky had told him to be.
"I put him there and told him on the bench, 'if it’s kicked to you, you’re going to nail the shot to win the game,' " Brasky said. "That's not exactly how we planned it, but we'll take it."
Redband, Washington, Smith and Jake Brasky were all pretty speechless after the game. It was a wild end to a hard-fought game.
"When Jeff hit that shot, I didn't even know what to say," Jake Brasky said. "I was shocked."
With a battery of television cameras in his face after the game, Redband struggled to find the words to express how we felt. We spoke later and he summed it up nicely.
"It's a blessing because to be on the team for eight games, six, seven or eight games now, and to get the game-winning shot to save all of our seniors' seasons and high school careers, it's the best feeling in the world," Redband said.
Smith said he wasn't surprised Redband came up big when the team needed it.
"I always knew he'd be on varsity eventually," Smith said. "He can shoot and he's a hard worker."
Etienne also came up big in the fourth quarter, scoring six of his 10 points on the night.
Again, Etienne stepping it up was by design, Brasky said.
"We thought we had an advantage high screen and roll because their big guy who was guarding Jamesson was hedging out on Jalen, so that left Jamesson rolling to the basket," Brasky said. "That’s one of our key sets and Jalen was the one who suggested (it). He came to me at half time and said I can hit Jamesson on the roll, so we kind of went to that at the beginning at fourth quarter."
All along, Brasky said he was worried about Olean's shooting guards, Nick Schmidt and Max Portlow.
"We knew it was going to be tough to hold them to 13 or under per quarter," Brasky said. "They have so many weapons. I said to my coaches before the game if their guards shot the ball well, it’s going to be tough for us to win. They’re guards shot the ball extremely well and we still won."
Schmidt scored all 12 of his points in the game on three-point jumpers. Portlow hit two three-point goals and Bathurst added two more.
Each three-pointer in the third quarter brought the Huskies' bench to life, and the whooping and hollering didn't go unnoticed by Washington.
"When the other team gets pumped and starts screaming, I don’t like it," Washington said. "It motivates me to play better."
Brasky told his players not to sweat the hot streak.
"When you live by the three, sometimes it’s fool's gold," Brasky said. "They have good shooters. Their guards are good shooters, but they’re hot and cold. They did get hot, but I kept telling the guys on the bench, they’re going to start missing. Weather the storm. We’re OK. Just get the rebounds when they miss."
And Batavia did get the rebounds, the most important from the likes of Etienne and Redband, who were able to convert rebounds under their own goal into scores.
In all, Redband ended the night with 11 points, including three three-point goals, and five rebounds.
Smith scored 24 points, hitting five three-pointers. Washington had 16 points and 10 rebounds, including nine big grabs on defense.
Bathurst led the Huskies in scoring with 18 points.
Even when his team was down by 12 in the third quarter, Smith said there was nobody on the team ready to throw in the towel.
"Our mentality is to fight to the end, to play to end and we talked about it during timeouts that we need to keep fighting and keep playing," Smith said. "When the fourth quarter started, we started to pick it up. They went on a little run, but our team sticks together and we play with confidence."
The Blue Devils trip to Glens Falls on Saturday is the first trip to the final four for Batavia since Washington was a freshman, when the team got knocked out in the first game. Washington, Smith and Jake Brasky said they're all feeling confident as they head into the state championship series.