Torrey Pines High Senior Caps Cancer Fight With Playoff-Winning Buzzer Beater

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There was only 00:005 left in the game. That’s a half-second from going to the state basketball championships or, maybe, the end of the season.

Torrey Pines senior Nick Herrmann wasn’t interested in going home. He worked too hard to get to this point. He worked too hard to live to this point.

The game on Saturday night pitted Herrmann’s Falcons against Cathedral Catholic High School in the San Diego’s Boys Open Division Championship Game. The winner would play later this week in the state championships.

“Diving on the floor, just doing whatever it takes to win," Herrmann recalled about the game. "It was just a back-and-forth battle the whole game."

Herrmann imagined this very moment a few years ago: A chance to win the big game, tied at 60, with that precious half-second on the clock. On Saturday, Herrmann caught the pass and shot in a flash from well beyond the three-point line.

“Once I knew I shot it high enough, I just kind of told myself, ‘I deserve this,’ and I thought it was going in,” Herrmann said.

Herrmann's shot went straight in and Torrey Pines won its 29th straight game of the season, 63-60. The undefeated Falcons will be the number one seed in the state championship tournament this week.

Herrmann was mobbed by his teammates and classmates. Cameras captured the senior breaking into tears.

“He’s talked about, dreamt about making that shot when he was in his hospital bed,” said Torrey Pines Head Coach John Olive. "So it’s kind of neat to see it come true."

In 2016, Herrmann was diagnosed with osteo sarcoma in his left leg. The cancerous tumor in the bone threatened to take his leg. It threatened to take basketball away, too.

Herrmann couldn’t help but cry on Saturday as he hugged every teammate and coach.

“Everything that had gone into it, from the day I was diagnosed, the long rounds of treatment, the long weeks in the hospital,” Herrmann said with a sigh. “Just all started pouring out when the shot went in.”

Herrmann, now 19, missed an entire school year while undergoing treatment and rehabilitation. It’s safe to say, he’s doing well.

“It was definitely hard," Herrmann said. "There were definitely sometimes where I was really down on myself, but for the most part, I really had this positive outlook."

“He is a very driven, very motivated kid,” Coach Olive said in agreement. “When he puts his mind to something, he’s hard to turn away.”

The Torrey Pines Falcons never doubted Herrmann would return, but they never anticipated a pandemic would delay their season into the spring and now, past graduation. Herrmann and his fellow senior players graduated two days before the game against Cathedral.

“We knew we had a special group, and we just didn’t want to lose this opportunity,” Olive said.

“Thanks to my faith in Christ, I knew that I would always have the opportunity to get back here, and I’m just extremely blessed,” said Herrmann before heading to his first practice to prepare for this week’s championships.

The senior said his immediate goal is to win the state championship and then play Division I basketball.

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