Buzzer-beater! MC's Burse banks in 30-footer as time expires in OT

SALIDA — Short of winning the lottery and donating the proceeds to build a new gym, there now officially is nothing Isaiah Burse can do to enhance his athletic legacy at Modesto Christian High School.

It's only been three months since Burse quarterbacked the Crusaders to the state small school bowl championship in Carson, ample imprint for most athletes.

But on Thursday he gave the home folks a moment to cherish, banking home a fadeaway 3-pointer from 30 feet, at the buzzer of overtime, to give MC a 66-63 victory against Arcata.

The win propels the Crusaders (24-8) to the Northern California Division 4 semifinal round Saturday night against Salesian of Richmond, which beat Mission 84-65 on Thursday.

MC saw the game sent into overtime when Arcata guard Conor Byrne banked in a contested 3-pointer with 3.5 seconds left in regulation, then the stunned Crusaders fell behind 60-56 when the Tigers scored the first four points of the overtime.

Ryan Riner scored five points during a 7-0 run that game MC a 63-60 lead, but Byrne again had the dagger. His 3-pointer with 18 seconds left hit the front rim, bounced high into the air and fell through to tie the game 63-63.

Modesto Christian worked the clock, but Burse's 3-pointer hit the rim with three seconds left and bounced out of bounds off an Arcata player.

There was exactly one second left, and Gary Porter called time out to set up the play.

Earlier in the game, MC was faced with a throw-in from the same baseline spot — just to the left of the backboard — and ran a lob to Anthony Pratt that he caught and dunked in one motion. This time, they set up in the same alignment, but the ball wasn't about to be lobbed inside.

"The option was to get Isaiah the ball," Porter said. "We wanted it to look like we were set up for our normal play there, which is a lob over the basket."

Burse broke from the pack, backpedalling beyond the arc on the left side. He caught the ball, made one dribble to his left and rose to get off the shot over two charging Tigers.

As soon as it left his hand, it appeared to be sailing slightly to the left. But instead of caroming off the backboard, it kissed the glass and banked cleanly though the net as the buzzer sounded.

"I've done that before," Burse said. "With one second left I knew I had to shoot fast. I caught the ball, cocked the wrist and let it fly.

"I called the bank. Yes I did, and the coaches heard it. Really, I knew it was going to bank, but I didn't know it was going in."

The shot capped Burse's 19-point effort that almost was for naught against a tall, big and talented Arcata team.

The Tigers (26-6) had a lineup of aircraft carriers, with forward Noah Wheeler and Ryan DeHart, who both are 6-foot-5 and weigh more than 230 pounds. But offensively their strength was in their outside game, where 6-6 shooting guard Jordan Semple (29 points) and Byrne (21 points) had their way.

"Tonight, these guys had me by weight and size," said MC's 6-4 junior center Anthony Pratt, who had 15 points. "It was a challenge, but we got the job done.

"What was so hard was the penetration of their guards. We watched game film, so we saw how well they could shoot. It did surprise me how well they shot down the stretch under pressure."

MC led nearly the entire game, but never by more than six points. A late run by the Tigers forged a 53-53 tie with 45 seconds left in regulation, but senior guard Alden Wampler appeared to have hit the game-winner when he hit a 3-pointer — his third of the game — with 15 seconds left in regulation.

All that did was set the stage for Byrne's improbable bank shot that sent the game into overtime, and then Burse's shot to win it.

"I just have the drive," Burse said. "I'm a competitor and I just don't like to lose. We're going to go as far as we can take ourselves and we have the ability here to win the state."

Bee staff writer Brian VanderBeek can be reached at or 578-2300.