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Hugo's Trey Johnson not alone with pain

After his gut-wrenching mistake Thursday in the high school state tournament, other athletes and fans have reached out to three-sport athlete.
by Jenni Carlson Modified: March 9, 2013 at 10:38 pm •  Published: March 9, 2013

We went to bed Thursday night and had never heard of Trey Johnson.

We woke up Friday morning, read about what he did, and now we can't get the basketball player from Hugo out of our heads.

When the day dawned, there were 20 teams still playing for high school state basketball titles in Oklahoma, but all that anyone was talking about was what happened in the Hugo-Millwood game the night before. It was the big front-page story in the sports section and a hot topic on websites both local and national. It was the buzz around the state tournament sites as well as the water coolers.

It was as unbelievable as it was gut-wrenching.

A kid whose team is ahead by one point in the final seconds of a win-or-go-home state tournament game loses his head, shoots a layup into the other team's basket and turns sure victory into agonizing defeat.

Anyone with a heart couldn't help feeling sorry for Trey.

But in the next breath, sympathy turned to concern.

How's he doing? Where is he? Is he going to be OK?

Those feelings spread far and wide Friday. USA Today picked up the story. So did Deadspin, a website where empathy and sympathy are rare commodities. We wanted to talk about our own embarrassing moments and reach out to athletes who've survived their own blunders, and the story made those athletes want to reach out to Trey.

What happened was just that devastating.

Hugo, a tournament regular from the southeast corner of the state, was locked in a defensive battle with prep power Millwood. Hugo took a 37-36 lead in the final minutes of the game, but Millwood had a chance to win when they inbounded the ball with 6 seconds left.

Hugo, though, forced a jump ball.

Possession arrow: Hugo.

The Hugo crowd, as big and loud as any at Yukon High School all day, went nuts. The Millwood crowd, always sizable and supportive, fell silent. Everyone knew that Hugo only had inbounds the ball in the backcourt and run out the remaining 3.7 seconds.

Hugo called a timeout, then set up its inbounds play. Johnson was supposed to sprint back toward the Millwood basket, and when he did, he broke free. The ball came to him, but instead of dribbling out the clock, he went right for the basket.

As the buzzer sounded and the ball fell through the rim, the gym stood still, everyone asking themselves the same question.

Was that the wrong basket?

It was.

Millwood 38, Hugo 37.

That was the news to which we awoke Friday morning. We didn't know that the kid is a three-sport athlete, that he's been the starting tailback on the football team since his freshman year, that he's a defensive whiz on the basketball team, that his best sport is actually baseball. We didn't know that he is an honors student, a quiet kid who spends most of his time with his girlfriend or his family.

We didn't know if he had a good head on his shoulders or a good support system around him.

Thankfully, he does.

“There's nothing that anybody can do or say that will change my opinion of him,” Hugo basketball coach Darnell Shanklin said. “He's a great kid, tremendous talent, and he'll do wonderful, wonderful things.”

Former Hugo football coach Courtney Latimore, now an assistant at Bishop McGuinness, said: “He's just one of those kids that you like having around. If I could, I'd take him anywhere I went.”

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by Jenni Carlson
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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