By Russell Bennett
On a cold and wet night in Mornington on Saturday, lightning struck twice.
The hometown Breakers battled the Pakenham Warriors in a Big V basketball triple-header, with the night’s showpiece game between the Division 2 senior men reaching an astonishing conclusion.
Mornington was the scene of Warriors Youth League player Jimmy Magrath’s remarkable over-the-backboard game winner against the Breakers last year.
The play gained worldwide attention, even reaching SportsCenter in the United States.
Last night, another stunning chapter was written in story of the Warriors’ rivalry with the Breakers with Ben Gaze draining an alley-oop layup off an inbounds pass with just one second remaining on the clock.
The coach of the Pakenham men’s side this season is Brent Russell – the same person who drew up the exact same play for Magrath last year… at the same stadium… against four of the same Breakers players.
After a game riddled with foul calls, physicality from both teams, tension in the stands, and an at-times frantic up and back tempo, Pakenham prevailed 78-76 to remain undefeated on the season.
Gaze shone for Pakenham with 19 points on 8-13 shooting, 7 boards, and 5 blocks while big man Brad Bridgewater also had a huge impact with 7 boards and 5 blocks of his own but both found themselves in foul trouble down the stretch after five foul calls in less than two minutes to start the game.
The Warriors had their battles – particularly from the charity stripe – as the Breakers maintained a slender lead for the majority of the contest thanks to 19 points from Zach Smith, a near double-double from former Warrior Harry Van Dort, and some big shots from deep.
Pakenham was down seven at the end of the third period and was still five points in arrears with 1:40 remaining before Rob Maartens (19 points) drained a dagger three as part of a gripping last-ditch effort to steal the win.
Brad Szalek (14 points, 8 boards) nailed two clutch free throws to level the scores at 76 apiece with just five seconds left, and then with just one second on the clock, a now trademark inbounds play from Russell saw former Casey Cavalier Szalek deliver a heart-stopping pass to Gaze, who finished with a stunning off-balance layup.
What a remarkable way to enter the Easter break at 3-0.
Click the links below to view the final play, and watch the Warriors belt out their team song.
For a full-run down of the triple-header at Mornington – in which Pakenham won all three contests, including just the second ever victory for the Warriors’ Youth League women – pick up a copy of the Pakenham-Berwick Gazette first thing Wednesday morning.