Perez beats the buzzer


Sends Panthers home as last place team in Mountain League

PASO ROBLES — With 3 seconds showing on the clock and down a point, Paso Robles High School sophomore guard Devin Perez had the basketball in his hands at the top of the key. The 6-foot guard drove to his right, split two defenders and shot an off-balance runner from the elbow that kissed off the glass and in as the buzzer began to chime.

“I realized there was only 3 seconds left, so I drove and was expecting a foul but they just left me open,” Perez said following the 52-51 victory. “And I take that shot all the time in practice so it was nothing, just like another shot.”

The buzzer-beater ended what was a crazy back-and-forth game that felt from the beginning like it would come down to whoever had the ball last. Paso Robles and Pioneer Valley are the bottom two teams in the Mountain League this season and were playing for bragging rights but no one would have known that had they wandered into the gym off the streets on Wednesday night.

The game saw six different lead changes with five of them coming in the first half as each team looked to establish their rhythm. The goal of each team was clear to see, work the ball around the zone and find the open shooter behind the three-point line. In fact, in this game, 43 percent of the made shots were from behind the arc as the Bearcats hit nine three’s while the Panthers hit eight.

The largest lead for any team was eight points which the Bearcats built thanks to terrific shooting from sophomore guard Payton Ramos who put up a season-high 21 points making five shots from behind the arc.

“I like scoring but I don’t really think about that as my game,” Ramos said after the game. “I am more of a rebounder I think. I just work hard on shooting and all of that so when it comes it comes and feels good but I don’t know.”

Ramos scored 11 of the Bearcats’ 16 points in the third quarter.

“We were just running the offense and running it how it is supposed to be run,” Ramos said. “And finding the open guys. I think we did a good job of doing that tonight like figuring out the open shooters and finding that open pass.”

After the Bearcats built their biggest lead of the game. the Panthers came storming back forcing three straight turnovers with hard on ball pressure and actually re-took the lead with just under 2 minutes to go in the game.

“They started pressing up real good like they were putting some good ball pressure on us too and we started getting nervous,” Perez said of the pressure. “Because they started to get a little momentum we got nervous but then we slowed it down and took control and did what we do best.”

Down one point with :24 to go the basketball game turned into a chess match as each coach called timeouts and had their team foul as they tried to get a look at what the final matchup would be. After two fouls and three timeouts, the clock now showed :04.7 remaining with the Bearcats inbounding the ball under the basket trailing, 50-51.

“The play kind of got broken up a little bit,” head coach Derrick Jasper said. “But we got the ball in the hands of the guy we wanted to shoot the ball and he made a big-time play at a big-time moment.”

Perez was swarmed by teammates as the buzzer went off and Paso Robles emerged victorious 52-51. With the victory, the Bearcats are now 10-15 on the season and will take on San Luis Obispo on Friday night. The boys final game and senior night will be on Feb. 6 when they face Arroyo Grande.

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