by Scott Kindberg
Heary's Storybook Career Has No Fairy Tale Ending
In one hand he had a program.
In the other, a pen.
Now, if he just had enough nerve.
Finally, he tapped the player on the shoulder and handed him the program and pen.
The player scribbled his signature on the book and handed it back to the boy, who happily returned to his seat.
The list of Mike Heary admirers grows, even in defeat.
History will show that the Hillbillies lost to Central Square of Section 3, 64-63, in the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Class B semifinals Saturday.
But history will also show that Heary will rank as one of the finest Western New York high school players to ever lace up his hightops.
Before a large Civic Center crowd, Heary showcased to the rest of the state the talents that he has displayed to privileged WNYers the last four years.
He played another terrific game, as he usually does and it's a tough way to go out," Fredonia coach Dave Polechetti said. "But he's had a great career and we won't see many like him for a long time in Western New York I'm sure."
Heary hit 11 of 26 shots from the field, including 4 of 9 from 3-point range, and canned eight of nine free throws to finish with a game-high 34 points. He also had seven rebounds, two assists, one steal and a blocked shot.
Not a bad day's work, under the circumstances.
"He's a whale of a ballplayer," Central Square coach Nick LaPre said.
On this day, however, there was no fairy tale ending
Heary missed two shots from the right baseline in the final 12 seconds that could have won the game for the Hillbillies. On the first one - a jumper - he had a good look at the basket, but the ball skipped across the rim.
"It worked pretty good," Heary said. "I just didn't shoot it right, I guess. It was a good look. Everthing worked like we decided."
On the next attempt - after the Redmen missed the front end of a one-and-one - Heary started from the left side, ran his man through two picks and took an inbounds pass from teammate Ryan LaMattina. Heary, who was closely guarded, drove the baseline and put up a running one-hander from about eight feet. The ball bounced off the front of the rim with two seconds left. Mike Haight tried to tip the rebound back toward the hoop, but it fell short as the buzzer sounded.
Number 24 had run out of "Hearyoics."
But after the sting of this loss has subsided, Heary can reflect on a career that will be the measuring sitck for future generations of Chautauqua County hoopsters.
Consider the following about the Navy-bound senior:
- He led the Hillbillies to two Section 6 titles in four years and a trip to the state semifinals, a first for a Chautauqua County boys team in the modern era.
- He scored 877 points this season, boosting his career total to 2,235, placing him third all-time in WNY and 18th in the state.
- He didn't score fewer than 23 points in any game all season.
- He surpassed 60 points once, 40 points twice, 30 points on 11 occasions and 20 points 13 times.
"To be able to help a team like this go really far is really special, to go along with all the things I've done," Heary said.
Yeah, Mike, it has been special. But even good things must come to an end. Life goes on.
"Right now, I feel like my carrer is over with," Heary said.
But then his face brightened and a smile creased his face.
"But I have a lot to look forward to."
Who knows? Maybe that autograph will be worth something some day.
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