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Wyoming's Adams returns to scene of title-winning tip
Nov 13, 2013 - The Associated Press
Josh Adams is going to try not to think about the play.
When Wyoming's sophomore guard runs onto the Coors Events Center court on Wednesday night to play Colorado, he'll be tempted to let his thoughts drift, if only for a second, and remember the tip that won the title.
Less than two years later, the jersey has changed, as has the competition. In fact, the only two constants between the 2012 Colorado Class 5-A championship game and Wyoming's road game on Wednesday are Adams, and the court.
Now a starter and key contributor for the Cowboys, Adams hasn't set foot in the Boulder building since his high school team, the Chaparral Wolverines, toppled Arapahoe 69-67 in overtime to secure the first boys basketball state title in school history.
If not for him, the trophy case might still be empty.
With just about nine seconds left in overtime of the state title game, Arapahoe's Zach Kocur drove to the right and whipped a contested runner off the backboard, the basketball caroming softly through the net.
Chaparral's Cory Calvert, now a sophomore guard at BYU, grabbed the inbounds pass and dribbled quickly up court, a defender making sure to stay between him and the basket. About six feet behind the three-point line, he stopped, pounded a crossover dribble, picked it up and pulled the trigger.
Adams had seen it a thousand times before.
"I already knew what was going to happen. He was going to make a move and take his shot," Adams said. "That was a shot I've seen him hit countless times in open gym and in regular season games. So I had full confidence in him shooting it.
"But if it didn't go in, I wanted to be in a position to possibly make a play on the ball."
The crowd buzzing, Calvert's shot arced high in the air, both teams' players turning to watch its path.
The ROOT Sports' play-by-play announcer raised his voice expectantly, shouting, "Calvert, for the win...!"
The basketball hit off the back iron and bounced high into the air. Adams, who started his sprint near the mid-court line, bolted towards the basket once the ball was shot, like a homing missile locked onto its target. As Arapahoe's big men stopped and stared, Chaparral's 6-2 senior blew by them, beginning to leap as the ball collided with the back iron above him.
His face glancing the bottom of the net, Adams soared from one side of the hoop to the other, batting the ball back towards the basket with his left hand just before time expired.
Before anyone realized what had happened, it dropped softly -- gracefully -- through the cylinder.
"I didn't really realize...I knew what had happened, but I didn't know it was Josh who had done it, until I saw him with his hands in the air running down to the other side of the court," Adams' father, Phillip Adams, said. "I was so focused on the ball going through the hoop."
Adams' mother, Stephanie Adams, had long since abandoned her seat, too nervous to stay in a stationary position. When Adams' shot went in, she was pacing on the concourse, watching tensely from above.
Chaparral coach Rob Johnson saw the tip from his peripheral vision, turned towards his bench and found nothing but empty seats. His players and coaches had already flooded onto the court.
"I saw Josh's hand tip the ball at the last second there," Johnson said. "I was like, 'What the hell just happened?' I wasn't quite sure that it had really happened.
"I was kind of in shock for a second."
Meanwhile, Adams took off in the other direction, hands extended to the sky, as if he were racing his teammates to the other end of the court. A few latched onto his jersey, but he spun away, his arms now outstretched at his sides like an airplane.
A moment before -- and even now, still -- he was flying.
They caught up with him and mobbed him underneath the opposing basket, his two arms -- still outstretched high above him - the only exposed limbs in a mound of white and red jerseys.
There were no fouls, no whistles. Only miracles.
The game, the season and his high school career now over, thanks to his 18th and 19th points, Adams was running again.