TAMPA, Fla. -- See that woman sitting in section 114? Her name is
They dream because her son plays college basketball. That's him,
Wait a second. Ty is saying something to teammate
Brazelton won't be afraid. He'll take Rogers' inbound pass and charge down the right side of the floor. Unseen by Drake defenders -- who can't take their eyes off Brazelton and Hilltoppers guard
In section 114, Ruth Rogers says a little prayer. So does Ty's father,
The ball falls through. Western Kentucky wins, 101-99.
For a sliver of a second, silence. Then, "AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!"
Ty runs toward the Western Kentucky fans, banging his chest. Cox, the former walk-on who scored 29 points, grabbed 16 rebounds and made the three-pointer that forced overtime, crumples to the floor. The officials huddle around a replay screen. Yes, Rogers released the shot in time. Western Kentucky coach
Believe in Brazelton, sure. He carried the Hilltoppers to a 16-point lead that evaporated in a hail of Drake three-pointers. But believe in Rogers? Absolutely.
It's only fitting, Ruth says as she waits for her son to emerge from his postgame duties, that a three-pointer will be the most important shot of Ty's life. "He learned to count by threes," Ruth says.
Counting those threes paid off, Jeff says. Ty, from tiny Eddyville, Ky., graduated from Lyon County High as the valedictorian. He was the first player Horn recruited from start to finish after taking over at his alma mater in 2003. In Ty, Horn saw himself, a guard whose shooting stroke, toughness and intangibles made up his lack of athleticism.
In an interview room in another part of the St. Pete Times Forum, Ty will take no credit for the shot. He will thank a higher power. He will thank his teammates.
"First of all, you've got to give the glory to God," Rogers says. "The reason I wanted the ball is because I have faith. And I think everybody on the team has faith. It's something we talk about. It didn't have to be me to shoot the ball. Whoever shot it, it was going down."
In a hallway, first-year Western Kentucky assistant
Hilltoppers coaches also could have panicked, Horn will say later. They had installed a play to use if they needed to go the length of the court and score. After Cox hit a free throw to give Drake a 99-98 lead, Bulldogs coach
"We weren't going to change it," Horn says.
Someone asks Rogers what is happening in Eddyville, a map dot about 30 miles Paducah, Ky. "I can't even imagine," Rogers says. "All seven people are out," Horn cracks. Later, Rogers will stick up for his hometown. "We have three stoplights now," he says. "So we're growing."
No matter how big it gets, Eddyville will have one native who may never have to pay for a beer again. "He just set himself for life in the state of Kentucky," Horn says. "And he's already smarter than anybody in our program -- including the head coach."
Friday afternoon, Rogers doesn't think about the back slaps or the attaboys that will provide the chorus for the remainder of his life. Instead, he thinks of another song, one written on the back of napkin by composer
Out in section 114, Ruth Rogers can't recall a favorite shining moment. She doesn't need to. She has a new one. "She loves it just as much as I do," Ty says. "I cannot wait 'til she tapes this year's."