The layup is the most underrated shot in basketball.
Most fans and television highlight producers prefer rim-rattling dunks and long, arcing 3-pointers.
Where is the love for the textbook layup?
Quick answer: It's in Windham today after a thrilling finish in the Division IV district final Friday night at Warren G. Harding High School.
Bombers junior guard Cameron Pozsgai beat the buzzer and John F. Kennedy with the game's final shot, a decisive layup that gave Windham a 50-49 victory.
"Our plan was to get it in to Cameron or Matt (Knight). They're our two best players," Windham coach Marty Hill said. "We had enough time and they're both pretty quick. We told them to attack the basket."
But layups were at a premium for both teams. The Bombers and Eagles both struggled at times, it seemed, the closer they got to the basket.
"We missed layups in the first quarter, second quarter," JFK coach Shawn Pompelia said. "We didn't convert on some easy put-backs."
Windham missed so point-blank shots that Hill almost couldn't believe the Bombers' final shot dropped.
"For all the layups we missed, that was a miracle layup to go in," he said. "I don't think we scored for about 3 minutes at the end of the game. We missed a lot of layups. Actually, of the three games we played here (in this tournament), this is the worst execution we had."
But Windham got it right when there were but two options.
Win or go home.
With the final seconds slipping away and the Bombers trailing, 49-48, Pozsgai found himself under the basket and staring at the most important layup drill of his young life.
Convert and the Bombers win another district championship and return to the regional at the Canton Memorial Fieldhouse. Miss and JFK's improbable sectional-district run climaxes in a district title for a team that won just five regular-season games.
"They took a lead and we're like, 'Oh, we've got to get it on. We've got to get a bucket,' " Pozsgai said. "Matt Knight was dribbling around. Great pass. Just found me under the hoop and I put it up and in.
"It was actually really fast. After the pass, somebody tipped it and it almost went out of bounds. So I just grabbed it real quick, power-dribbled and put it up and it went in. I used all my might to get it up there, because everybody was crashing down and I had to get it up and in."
JFK (8-16) went from ecstasy to agony as those final 6.4 seconds disappeared and Pozsgai's layup finished the Eagles' improbable run.
"Life's funny because that spot on the floor, that pass thrown into the low block - Tuesday night, we were reversed," Pompelia said. "We were the other team that was jumping up and down. Unfortunately, tonight, we're not cutting the nets down."
As Pompelia was wrapping up the Eagles' season for reporters in a hallway outside JFK's locker room, the Bombers were still in the gym cutting down those nets and posing for photographs.
It's hardly March madness for Windham. This is a program that expects to win district titles. The Bombers lost several seniors from last year's regional-qualifying team, but it's not like Hill had to rebuild. Pozsgai and Knight played extensively as freshmen and Tyler Pennington also saw action that season.
Hill's juniors are all but seniors now, with three full seasons of varsity experience.
Still, anyone who expected any less than a thrilling finish one way or the other need only be reminded of the two most recent district meetings between these teams. The Bombers beat the Eagles, 62-55, in double-overtime a year ago. In 2009, JFK outlasted Windham, 60-54.
"We've played them three times and they've all been exciting games," Hill said.
This time, the Bombers led 46-39 early in the fourth quarter and 48-41 with 3:25 to play. But the Eagles survived their own problems with finishing close to the basket and battled back to take the lead when Dominic Naples made a steal and Raitwann Gaston scored for a 49-48 lead in the final minute.
It would have been a storybook ending for JFK, which struggled in its first season in the North Coast League. Those trials and tribulations nearly paid off with a district title.
Pompelia said there have been other positive developments.
"This was our first year in the North Coast League and I met some outstanding coaches and saw some excellent basketball," he said. "Through the process of this league, we did get better and our kids are getting notice from small colleges because we're in Cleveland, where they wouldn't get the looks here in the Mahoning Valley.
"You have to look at the positives of everything. When we first got in the league, it wasn't something I really wanted to be in, but once I went through the process of playing through the league, it was a great experience. The North Coast League is one of the best basketball leagues in the state. I know that now."