Varsity Maine Awards Finalists and Winners
2018 Varsity Maine Award: Play of the Year
Top Play of the Year
Nomination of: Senior Center Zach Reali and team
Team: Biddeford Tigers Sport: Boys Basketball
Nominated by: Coach Justin Tardif
April 3rd, 2018
To Whom It May Concern:
I would like to nominate Biddeford’s Zach Reali and his teammates for the Top Play of Year when he tipped the ball in at the buzzer to clinch Biddeford’s first quarterfinal playoff win since 2004 and only third quarterfinal win since 1981 with a win over #7 seed Brunswick 50-48 at the Portland Expo. The win was Biddeford’s 16th win, the most since 1966, and 11th straight win in a row. This play also won Channel 8 Travis Lee’s top basketball play of the year.
This play has all the characteristics (significance, meaning, suspense/unlikely hero, and celebration) of what makes a “Top Play.”
Significance: Zach tipped the ball in at the buzzer to clinch Biddeford’s first quarterfinal playoff win since 2004 and only third quarterfinal win since 1981 with a win over #7 seed Brunswick 50-48 at the Portland Expo. The win was Biddeford’s 16th win, the most since 1966, and 11th straight win in a row. It was more than just a game winner for our basketball program. It symbolized our hard work and our ability to stay positive during the tough years.
Meaning: When this Senior group entered our program, we were in rough shape. We had just come off a 0-18 season, and when they were Freshmen and Sophomores, we were 1-17 both years at the varsity level (as a freshmen group they won only 4 games). But through their efforts, hard work, and teamwork, this group improved each day, stayed coachable, and ended up putting Biddeford basketball back in the conservation. With a great regular season (15-3), if we did not win at least one playoff game, the season would have felt like a bit of a disappointment. This play validated all the hard work, Zach, his teammates, and the coaching staff put in to the last four years even when we were not very good. This is why no single play in the state meant more to its program and coaches this is tip in play to win. It is probably Biddeford’s basketball most important/dramatic two points in its history because of what the program had been through the previous 4 seasons.
Suspense/Unlikely Hero: We were up 7 with about 3 minutes left in the game, and felt like we were in good shape. Then the wheels kind of fell off. We got into foul trouble. 2 starters fouled out. And we turned the ball over. After a turnover against the full court pressure of Brunswick, the game suddenly was tied with 35 seconds left. Zach had just checked in a few moments before to replace a player who fouled out. He had not played at all in the second half. So we had the ball, 2 bench players in, the game is now tied. If this game goes into OT, we likely do not win because of our foul trouble and momentum. We choose not to call timeout. We brought the ball up, executed a quick hitter we run all the time for the last shot, and Zach was in the right place at the right time. Zach played his role. His role was to play defense and crash the boards. He crashed the offensive glass for the game winning tip. The unlikely player scored the game winning basket.
Celebration: The celebration speaks for itself. There was joy and shock of how the game ended. The play/season/ and our program deserved a celebration like this.
It’s official. Zach Reali and the Biddeford basketball program won Play of the year in Maine 2018 at the Varsity Maine Awards!!! Congratulations Zach. What a year for the Tiger basketball program. Jerome Criado was also a finalist this season for beyond the box score. pic.twitter.com/LroAuaYdH0— Biddeford Basketball (@BHSTigerHoops) June 26, 2018