Malachi Emmons woke up to his phone blowing up with texts about this biggest play of his high school basketball career.
Everybody at school the next day couldn’t stop talking about it with him either.
“Honestly the next day I think I watched that video in like two or three classes,” Emmons said. “The teacher brought it up on the board.”
The video in question was of Emmons’ right-wing, 28-foot, game-winning heave at the buzzer which helped Concord defeat South Bend Saint Joseph, 56-53 last Tuesday night, and was featured as the No. 1 play on SportsCenter’s Top-10 plays of the night.
Thousands across the country have seen the play, either live on television or on social media. And Emmons, a senior guard, is soaking in all his time in the spotlight.
“Honestly, I didn’t know I was going to get the ball right away until coach told me to go get it,” the senior said. “I couldn’t let the ball go out of bounds because then I didn’t want them to set their defense back up. I just went and grabbed the ball, shot it and hoped for the best.”
With 8.2 seconds remaining, Concord called an out-of-bounds play, which Emmons recalls being an isolation set meant to go to him. When the ball was passed towards him, it was tipped by an Indians defender. Emmons raced towards his own baseline to save the ball, and with time quickly running out, had to improvise.
“When I shot it, I was like, ‘That is going in.’,” Emmons said. “Then it bounced in and the rest is history.”
His teammates, students and other fans stormed the court, pushing Emmons into one corner of the arena as the celebration was on.
“Loved it,” he said. “It was a little too much and there was a mob.”
Emmons, a transfer from Elkhart that averaged almost 10 points per game last season, is already making a big impact with Concord, who moved to 2-0 after Tuesday’s win, and now sit at 2-2 after losses to Jimtown and Angola. It’s the first season the Minutemen have started 2-0 since the 2015-16 season.
And his team’s hot start has Emmons thinking big this season, like a Northern Lakes Conference and sectional championship.
“It was very important because it is a big goal of mine to try and turn this program around and make the best out of it,” Emmons said. “That’s all I was focused on was winning that game. I couldn’t lose.”
NorthWood finding success during tragedy
When NorthWood was ousted from last season’s playoffs, head coach Aaron Wolfe felt his team was playing its best basketball of the year. Three points and 1.4 seconds separated the Panthers from a semistate appearance.
With many of those players, like Cade Brenner returning to this year’s NorthWood team, there was optimism that the Panthers could get themselves right back in the same position come playoff time this season.
“I really enjoyed the leadership we have had in the locker room,” Wolfe said. “I felt like we had players that understood that this season was going to be a journey, and have tried to stack good days up in row, and I think it also helps to have some confidence from the end of last year to know they are capable at playing at a higher level.”
The early returns on this season have been promising.
The Panthers have started this season 3-0 with wins against Triton, Fort Wayne Concordia Lutheran and Lakeland.
But through the on-court success, NorthWood’s leadership and team bond has been tested since the start of the season when tragedy struck the program.
On Oct. 30 Mary Raasch, the mother of junior Ian Raasch and freshman Tyler Raasch, died after a long battle with cancer.
Mary Raasch was a well-known fan at NorthWood basketball games, and after a return to a more normal high school basketball season this year, her seat in NorthWood’s gym remained empty.
And as NorthWood continues its season-long journey back to the regionals, it will be a burden the Panthers will continue to have to deal with.
“Both Ian and Tyler are special people, as well as good basketball players,” Wolfe said “They have been courageous in their approach to this tragedy. I think they were already close with our basketball team, which helps, and have used basketball as a time to bond with friends.”
Penn gets huge performance from Markus Burton
If it wasn’t for Markus Burton, the Kingsmen wouldn’t have started their season off with a win. A strongly contested game against Carroll to open the season Burton scored a team-high 28 points, 21 of which came in the second half.
“Carroll played pretty well for three quarters,” head coach Al Rhodes. “I was proud of the fact that we had a stretch at the end of the third and start of the fourth where we were able to take control of the game.”
Burton wasn’t only doing it with the ball in his hand. He also generated four steals that led directly to points, which helped break the game open, and ended up being a 70-52 Penn win.
Burton’s play has directly led to the Kingsmen’s 3-0 start to the year, which also includes a dominant 84-45 win over South Bend Clay and a 52-48 win against Crown Point, in which Burton scored 16 points and recorded nine assists.
Now in his third season of varsity basketball, Burton is seeing major growth in his game, and is expected to be a leader for Penn this season.
“He had an excellent summer improving,” Rhodes said “I think good things are ahead.”
Marian (3-0) comes in at No. 12 in the Indiana Basketball Coaches Association (all-class) poll while the Knights are currently No. 1 in the Class 3A Associated Press poll.
In other Associated Press class polls, which come out on Tuesdays, Adams is tied for No. 14 in Class 4A, followed by Concord and Riley tied for No. 23. Indianapolis Cathedral tops the 4A poll.
Saint Joseph is No. 7 in Class 3A, followed by NorthWood at No. 8, Washington at No. 21 and Glenn at No. 23.
In 2A, Bremen is No. 15 while Central Noble tops that class.
In 1A, Triton sits at No. 9, Elkhart Christian is No. 18, with Barr Reeve sitting at the top.