CARY — Even if it weren't for a 3-pointer in the final minute, Green Hope's boys basketball team had put together a powerful performance on its senior night. With the all-seniors starting lineup long since removed the game, head coach John Green looked down the end of his bench and put in Nitin Reddy.
Reddy is no ordinary senior.
He's been a manager for the team these past four seasons, playing in just one junior varsity game last year. He also has autism-like special needs.
But in his first - and possibly final - varsity game, Reddy fired up six 3-pointers in his 1:42 of playing time. His fourth bounced off the front rim, almost touched the shot clock, and fell straight through the net - sending the home crowd into a frenzy.
He was one of eight seniors to score as Green Hope routed Cary 61-34 in Tri-Nine Conference action on Tuesday.
"I thought it wasn't going to go in," said Reddy, who was carried off the court on the shoulders of his teammates after the postgame handshakes. "But after it hit the rim, it did."
Reddy's shot lands about 2:50 into the clip below. (This article continues after the video.)
Reddy's shot was the exclamation point on a night that started and ended with Green Hope's seniors.
Senior guards Bradley Saacks and Ches Edwards - usually some of the first players off the bench - got the starting nod for the Falcons and set the tone early, as did senior forward Alex Conwell.
Conwell scored all 10 of his points in the first two quarters as Green Hope was out to a 23-12 lead.
"I knew that I had to step up. Having the fans there, having my whole family there, it was a night that I had to perform well," Conwell said.
In the second half, Chris Flemmings (10 points), Saacks (9), Edwards (7), John Hardin (4), Keith Walsh (2) and Ty Hamby (2) all entered the scoring book as the Falcons grew their lead to 20. But as Flemmings noted, this was one of the team's best defensive efforts. The Falcons had 12 steals.
"We were talking (on defense) a lot more," Flemming said. "There are some nights when we don't talk, and it's bad defense. But when we talk, we're all on the same page."
It was a special senior night for this class, most of whom played for head coach John Green on junior varsity for two seasons. After their sophomore year, Green became the head coach, so the Falcons boast continuity that few area teams can match.
"It's rare that it happens that way. To see them in middle school and see what I'm getting as a JV coach and then now I've seen them go from a freshman to seniors - I'm just thrilled with how the guys have developed," Green said. "I told them before the game how important they've been to the program."
Green said he was confident Reddy would be able to hit one shot. Last year, he made one from 30 feet away in a junior varsity game.
"The top of the key is his money shot. He wasn't able to get it - he got it towards the wing and shot some pretty deep shots. But eventually they were going to fall because he's a good shooter," Green said. "When it went in, it was pandemonium. Everybody went nuts, which is one of the highlights of the year."
Cary, which scored just four points in the third quarter, found out soon after the game that it would need to win the Tri-Nine Conference tournament to make the state playoffs. Holly Springs' 50-43 defeat of Middle Creek ensured that Cary cannot finish fifth.