The regular season has ended for Strath Haven High in suburban Philadelphia with the haunting memory of a basketball left hanging on the rim more than two months ago. At the end of a Dec. 5 game against archrival Penncrest High, the Panthers trailed 47-46 with one second remaining when sophomore guard Bob Casciato hoisted a three-pointer from the corner. The ball spun around the inside of the cylinder, bounced out and off the backboard and then did another tantalizing full circle around the rim's interior before coming to rest on the back of the rim as the clock expired.
"Everyone just held his breath," says Penncrest athletic director Michele Doyle. "And held it, and held it, and held it...."
After a short conference the referees ruled the game over. "Everyone was hassling me, saying that I needed a freak miss to make the newspapers," says Casciato, whose shot has become a staple on blooper shows and sports highlight segments nationwide.
The Panthers finished the regular season with a 13-5 league record, one game behind Central Athletic League division leader Lower Merion High, Kobe Bryant's alma mater. North Haven's runner-up status didn't cost the school a spot in the district playoffs, but it could leave the Panthers without the benefits afforded the No. 1 seed, a major blow for any team seeking a state title in this rugged basketball region. "That was the difference between second place and a share of the conference title," says Strath Haven athletic director Ed Quigley. "It's been two months, but it feels like the ball is still sitting up there."