Saturday night started as a nightmare for Desert Pines senior Julian Jacobs.
Two quick fouls, a seat on the bench and a double-digit deficit had Jacobs and his teammates wondering how to wake up.
The night ended better than his wildest dream.
Jacobs heaved the ball to the ceiling of Orleans Arena, celebrating the Jaguars’ improbable 59-57 come-from-behind win over Clark in the Division I-A boys basketball final.
Desert Pines (28-3) won its first state title in boys basketball.
“You have no idea,” said Jacobs, who finished with 19 points. “I don’t have words for this. It’s beyond an awesome feeling.”
Three minutes into the game, Jacobs headed to the bench with two fouls and watched his team fall behind by as many as 17 points.
He had two points at the half as Desert Pines trailed 30-18.
“I just kept telling them to hang on and fight through,” Desert Pines coach Mike Uzan said. “We were down six possessions. That’s nothing. We’ve seen it before. With these guys, anything is possible.”
The Jaguars still trailed 48-35 early in the fourth quarter, but Jacobs’ tomahawk dunk with 6:53 to go cut the Chargers’ lead to 48-41 and had Desert Pines starting to smell a comeback.
“Our guys love it when Julian dunks,” Uzan said. “It lit a little fire.”
His second-chance jumper just more than minute later trimmed Clark’s lead to 49-46, and Donavin Wright’s jumper with 2:55 left gave Desert Pines its first lead, at 54-53.
Quick baskets by Malcolm Davis and Sherron Wilson put Clark (29-3) ahead 57-54, but the Chargers didn’t score again.
Wright’s jumper with 1:33 to go tied it, and after two Clark misses, Jacobs made maybe his most important play of the game — a perfect pass to Trevion Turner on the right block for the winning hoop with 21.3 seconds to play.
Clark’s Sir Washington was double-teamed and committed a turnover on the next possession, and Wright had a chance to seal it from the free-throw line but missed the front end of a one-and-one.
Washington’s drive hit the back of the rim with three seconds left, and Desert Pines called a timeout with one second to go before Clark could foul.
Jacobs caught the inbound pass and fired the ball skyward.
Clark went 3-for-8 with nine turnovers in the fourth quarter.
“We put a lot of pressure on them and got a lot of turnovers,” Jacobs said. “We wanted to get out and run. They kept us in a half-court game in the first half, and we’re not used to that.”
Wright added 13 points, and Re’Meake Keith had 12 rebounds for Desert Pines.
“Re’Meake has done that all year for us,” Uzan said.
Davis had 18 points and 11 rebounds, and Wilson scored 16 for Clark.