The Student News Site of Richard Montgomery High School

The Tide

The Student News Site of Richard Montgomery High School

The Tide

The Student News Site of Richard Montgomery High School

The Tide

Buzzer beat: Rockets fall to Whitman off last-second shot

Junior De’marean Frazier walks towards the bench after a stop in play. (Photo permission granted by Catherine Nguyen)

Within the last second of the state semifinal game between Richard Montgomery and Whitman, two things happened for the first time that night: the sold-out crowd went silent, and Whitman sophomore Will Shapiro made a shot. 

After mounting a 15-point comeback in the last quarter, including a 16-0 run to take the lead with five seconds left, the Rockets fell to the Vikings 67-66 in a game that RM fans will remember for years to come. Shapiro’s buzzer-beating three with under a second remaining, his first made shot of the game, sent the Vikings’ fans into a mob on the court and his team into the State Championship, where they will play Frederick HS at Xfinity Center on Saturday. For the Rockets, a successful season will end just before the state title game, but as a team they still have a lot to be proud of, such as a regional title and a historic regular season win over Churchill. 

Senior guard Dante Mayo once again led the scoring for RM, finishing with 23 points on 50 percent shooting from three in what was his last game in black and gold. Sophomore guard Tavares “Boogie” Vaughan-Cooper added 19 after another big second half. RM only received three points from their bench-a three from senior Yabez Jackson. 

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The Rockets began the game ice cold, starting 1-4 from the line and 0-7 from the field, with their first field goal not coming until five minutes into the game. Whitman, a high-scoring team who scored 75 points or more six times this season, took advantage of this and surged to an early 12-1 lead that extended to 24-10 after the first quarter. 

But unlike their last game against Bowie, the Rockets gained momentum in the second quarter, cutting the lead to seven with three minutes left in the second after a few hard drives from Vaughan-Cooper and junior Khalil Wilson. Entering halftime, the Rockets were down eight but were slowly chipping away at the Vikings’ early lead. RM was unable to draw closer in the third, setting up a fourth quarter in which they needed a miracle to keep their season alive; and one they almost got.

There are famous examples of sports moments that are overshadowed and forgotten because of a spectacular play that happens just after. Marcus Paige’s double-clutch three in the 2016 national championship was erased by Chirs Jenkin’s buzzer-beating three-pointer just seconds later; Jermaine Kearse’s catch off his back in Super Bowl 49 that was meaningless after Malcolm Butler’s goal-line interception; and now, RM’s comeback in the fourth quarter of this game can be included in the list. 

Down 14 to start the fourth, the rally started with just under three minutes left in the game with an and-1 drive from Vaughan-Cooper that brought the score to 64-53. From there, the Rockets’ patented full-court press finally began to force turnovers after a long pass was intercepted by Jackson and passed upcourt to Mayo who knocked down a three. RM proceeded to get three steals in a row, igniting their crowd and putting the pressure on Whitman for the first time that game.

The Rockets took their first lead of the game with just 21 seconds remaining. Junior guard De’marean Frazier finished with contact at the rim after a Whitman player lost the ball off their foot, putting the Rockets up one.

Held scoreless now for almost three minutes, Whitman had possession and the chance to take the last shot of the game after Frazier’s make. Even though he was the smallest on the court, Vaughan-Cooper stepped in front of a driving Whitman player and drew a charge with just six seconds left to gain possession back for RM. 

The last six seconds of this game couldn’t have been scripted up better than a Hollywood movie. A full-court pass on the inbound to Vaughan-Cooper and a subsequent foul by Whitman sent him to the line up by one point. After making the first, the second bounced off the rim twice and into the hands of Whitman’s Titian DeRosa. From there, just check Sports Center for the last 4.8 seconds.

While this wasn’t the outcome RM wanted or expected, the highs and successes of this 2023-24 season should not be forgotten. Playing one of the toughest schedules in the county, RM started their season 7-1 and overcame a difficult final stretch of the season to win the regional championship. The season reaffirmed RM as a basketball powerhouse in the state and as a threat for next season.

Many players also achieved individual feats this season. Mayo surpassed 1,000 points, shot 40 percent from three on the year, and averaged a team-high 18.5 points per game. Frazier led the county in steals with 67, Vaughan-Cooper as only a sophomore averaged 15 PPG, and Wilson was dominant on the boards and in the paint. 


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About the Contributor
Ari Fine
Ari Fine, Sports Editor
Junior Ari Fine is in his third year on The Tide and second as Sports Editor. As Sports Editor again, Ari hopes to continue to innovate the section and be creative with layout designs. In his free time, Ari enjoys going on runs and playing lacrosse with friends.