The Lick-Wilmerding High School boys' basketball team preaches a simple motto to its players: always think about the next play.
Sophomore guard Micah Elan fully embraced that philosophy against league rival Urban, and the results paid off in a big-time way for the Tigers.
Capping off a spectacular night, Elan grabbed a missed free throw, dribbled the length of the court and swished a heavily-contested 3-point basket at the buzzer, willing his team to a dramatic 64-63 win over Urban in Bay Counties League West play on Friday. Elan nailed the trifecta after committing a turnover on his team's previous possession with 7.6 seconds left and the Tigers trailing by one.
"I really wanted to make up for that mistake, and coach has a bunch of confidence in me, so I knew I had to make a play," said Elan, who led the Tigers with 30 points and seven rebounds on the night. "And as soon as the ball left my hand, I knew it was going in."
Elan, a rangy 6-foot-4 guard, scored 17 of his points in the second half, helping to rally the Tigers in the fourth quarter for the win in yet another exciting BCL West contest. His monster game spoiled a dominant effort from the Blues' Andre Campbell, Jr., who scored 24 points and ripped down 14 rebounds in a losing cause.
Campbell, just a sophomore, tallied 11 points in the third quarter, helping Urban rally from a halftime deficit to tie the game 49-49 heading into the fourth. The Blues opened up a 61-58 lead with two minutes left in the contest, but hurt themselves by missing three free throws in the last minute.
Neither team led by more than six in a tightly-contested first half. Urban fell behind early, but rallied to take a 29-26 lead midway through the second quarter, thanks to the play of senior guard Harrison Golding and Campbell, who combined for 18 first-half points.
However, Lick rallied late in the second quarter, ending the half on a 9-1 run for a 35-30 lead at the break. Elan was the catalyst, pouring in 13 points in the quarter, many on hard drives to the basket and crafty mid-range jumpers.
Along with Elan's stellar game, the Tigers got big contributions from senior guard David Allen and sophomore post David Peletz, who notched 16 and 13 points, respectively. Golding chipped in with 16 for Urban.
With its tiny enrollments and rigorous academic standards, the BCL will never feature rosters chock full of talented athletes that more-celebrated conferences around the Bay Area boast. But the league consistently produces solid, well-coached squads, and dazzling games like the Urban and Lick-Wilmerding contest on Friday night are turning out to be routine.
"We know that Urban is a great squad, so this was a huge win for us," said Elan. "We put in a lot of hard work for this one tonight. I can say, I never made a shot like that before. So obviously that made the win even more special."
Both teams feature exceptionally young rosters, with just seven seniors listed between the schools. With the win, Lick-Wilmerding improves to 12-9 on the season, including 2-2 in league play. Urban falls to 12-8 and also has a 2-2 league record.