Monty Dyson, a staff member at Anchorage Baptist Temple, put up a prayer Saturday night -- and though he came up short on a 70-foot shot that could have earned him $1 million at the Great Alaska Shootout, he hit enough shorter shots to leave Sullivan Arena richer than when he arrived.
Dyson, 47, hit the backboard on his one shot at $1 million in the annual Million Dollar Shot sponsored by Vito Ungaro of Vito's Auto Sales. His three-quarter-court shot was as close as anyone has come in the crowd-pleasing contest, staged during halftime of the championship game.
"It's gonna take a miracle," Dyson said before stepping onto the Sullivan court.
But he had good reason to believe. Earlier in the day, he went to Buckner Fieldhouse, where his sons, 25-year-old Chet and 22-year-old Chad, were playing games, and got in a little practice.
"I made one three-quarter shot out of about 30," he said. "It bounced in."
With the $1 million out of his grasp, Dyson moved to halfcourt for three tries at a 2011 Chevy HHR, courtesy of Vito's. He missed them all.
Then he moved to the 3-point line, where he had all or any of 12 prizes. He claimed two of them -- a remote-start from Car Toyz and 25,000 Alaska Airlines miles from the Insurance Group of Alaska. The 12th 3-pointer was for a 2002 Honda Electra worth $5,000, another prize put up by Vito's, and his shot for that went off the rim. Ungaro let Dyson's son Chet try from 3-point range for the same prize, and he missed too.
Then they moved to the free throw line. A DJ from KGOT took a shot on behalf of Dyson, and hit nothing but air. Then Dyson went to the free throw line and hit nothing but net to take home the car along with the other prizes.
Before the Million Dollar Shot promotion was the annual free-throw shooting contest for four Alaska Airlines tickets. Contestants shoot from the foul line in quick order; if they miss, they attempt a layup and if they miss that, they're.
The smoothest shooter was also the youngest, fourth-grader Bryson Anderson. He was one of the final two survivors from a group of eight who earned their way into the competition by winning earlier promotions during the tournament. About a dozen of Anderson's free throws were pretty, high-arcing shots that went cleanly through the net.
Eventually it came down to just Anderson and Dylan West, who is probably a nice young man but on this night was relegated to the role of villain. Anderson missed a free throw and then missed his layup, while West sank his final free throw to win the airline tickets -- only to be showered with a loud chorus of boos from a crowd that was clearly rooting for the kid.
The kid, by the way, has pretty good basketball genes.
He's the nephew of UAA coach Rusty Osborne and the son of former UAA sharp-shooter Bryan Anderson.