There was no place for Rick Swanwick to hide.
There were two seconds showing on the Oakland Coliseum Arena scoreboard and Trabuco Hills High School trailed Central Valley by two points in its State Division III boys’ championship basketball game.
Swanwick had carried the Mustangs on his 6-foot-10 frame during a second-half rally. He had scored all 24 of Trabuco Hills’ points in the half and now he needed to make two free throws to send the game into overtime.
Central Valley called a timeout to freeze him, but Swanwick calmly toed the line. He dribbled three times, spun the ball in his hands, let his knees dip a bit and released the ball.
Bedlam followed in the Trabuco Hills’ section of fans.
He went through the same routine for the second free throw.
But this time he was perhaps an inch off. The ball hit the back of the rim, bounced out of bounds with Trabuco Hills’ Tim Manning in pursuit as the buzzer sounded, giving Central Valley a 62-61 victory. Swanwick collapsed on the floor. He had finished with 33 points.
“I was pretty tight,” Swanwick said.
“The state title was on the line and we were down by two and there’s two seconds left,” he continued. “That’s the stuff that movie material is made of.”
But as Trabuco Hills Coach Rainer Wulf said, the game didn’t come down to one free throw.
There were too many things that hurt Trabuco Hills to pin it all on one shot.
The biggest factor was that the Mustangs, except for Swanwick, couldn’t score in the second half. And that made Swanwick’s second half all the more heroic.
“We set up three straight three-point shots for Randy Kriech and none of them went in,” Wulf said. “They all looked good leaving his hand, but they didn’t fall.”
With the other Mustangs not hitting, Swanwick took over. He made one big move after another, finishing 13 of 20 from the floor. He also had 16 rebounds as Trabuco Hills rallied from a seven-point deficit with 5:30 left in the game.
With the score tied, 60-60, Central Valley’s Ron Golden made two free throws.
Kriech tried a 16-foot jumper at the other end. It looked as if it would fall, but just rimmed out.
Swanwick leaped for the rebound, came down with it, then tossed up an off-balance shot as he was fouled. The ball rolled around the rim, but also fell off.
He went to the line, having made just six of 14 previous tries.
“I relaxed a little bit after I made the first one,” Swanwick said. “I thought the second one was going in, but it didn’t.”