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Winners always want the ball writes Steve Ranson

By Steve Ranson
Elijah Jackson's clutch shooting helps Fallon to a state title.
Thomas Ranson

Friday’s Elijah Jackson’s buzzer-beating 3-pointer guided missile rapidly became known as “The shot heard ‘round the world” after the LVN posted a short video clip of him releasing the ball and then having it permeate the air and through the net without touching the rim.

With 2.8 seconds left in overtime and the score tied, the Fallon senior executed an encore from the 2019 championship game against Elko when he unleashed a 3-point jump shot from about the same distance to the basket as he did five days ago.

Same results. A three-point win for the Greenwave and a state title. Another disappointing loss for Elko.

One team celebrated, hugging each other and thanking their fans; the other fought back tears and disappointment.

Was the expression “The shot heard ‘round the world” an exaggeration in describing Jackson’s game-winning basket?

Not after Friday night when national television showed the highlights of the Greenwave’s win over league rival Elko and Jackson’s basket.

ESPN’s Sportscenter featured Jackson’s 3-point shot as a top highlight of the day, and considering the technological age of programming being broadcast to all corners of the world, undoubtedly a million or more viewers saw Mr. Clutch not only nail his shot Friday afternoon, but viewers also saw the replay from one year ago when the long shot gave Fallon its first boys’ basketball championship since 1971.

Without a doubt, Elijah put Churchill County on the globe since ESPN is seen in more than 200 countries and most of the U.S. military bases on the other side of the world.

I couldn’t but help imagine Elijah shooting from his familiar perch on the floor while watching Saturday’s San Diego State-Nevada basketball game at Lawlor. Looking down into the arena offers a different perspective.

The distance, the pressure to sink the ball and the heroics to give Fallon another state win emerge as one remarkable feat.

“It’s like you hold your breath and as soon as you shoot the ball and it goes in, so much relief goes through your body,” Jackson said. “It’s pretty crazy.”

This 2020 edition of the Greenwave mirrored the previous year’s model. Confident, feisty, unrelenting, cool. That also describes Jackson, and Fallon coach Chelle Dalager wanted the ball in his hands.

Quarterback Shane Falco expressed a prophetic line in “The Replacements,” a movie about replacement football players competing during a strike. Near the end of the movie, the temporary players seek a win for the Washington Sentinels to earn a berth in the playoffs. The final minutes of the game don’t look good with Washington behind 17-14.

With the offense in a huddle, Falco looks at his teammates:

“I wish I could say something classy and inspirational, but that just wouldn’t be our style. Pain heals, chicks dig scars, glory lasts forever. It’s been an honor sharing the field of battle with you.”

The Greenwave had a cast of winners, each one with the capability of making a difference.

In the regionals, Avery Strasdin’s 3-point winning shot gave in double overtime lifted Fallon to the title. Thomas Steele’s rebound and put-back basket tied Friday’s game with seconds left in regulation play. Without a tie, Fallon’s season ends.

And then there’s Jackson. He had the ball.

The Sentinels’ coach Jimmy McGinty would’ve been proud of the Greenwave players when odds appeared to be against them, but the team already had that winning attitude.

Said McGinty, “Winners always want the ball when the game’s on the line.”

Steve Ranson is editor emeritus of the Lahontan Valley News.