NKY coach’s newly adopted son hits game-winning buzzer-beater: WATCH

Matt Griffin put the team on his back weeks after he said goodbye to foster life for good.
Northern Kentucky high school student hits game-winning shot. (Source: WXIX)
Published: Feb. 27, 2023 at 9:35 PM EST
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WARSAW, Ky. (WXIX) - Tie game. Five seconds left. District championship on the line against a rival.

Inbound pass, and Gallatin County sophomore Matt Griffin takes it. Four seconds... three seconds...

An Owen County player comes up to press. Griffin gets in his body before spinning out. Two seconds... one second...

It isn’t even a half-court shot. There’s no time. Griffin dribbles once, pulls up and lets go. The buzzer screams. Every eye traces the shot’s arc from Griffin’s desperate heave to the waiting hoop. The ball hits the inside of the rim... and falls down with the net feathering after it. Pandemonium.

Gallatin County wins 60-57.

“It was amazing,” Griffin recalled Monday. I mean, words can’t describe it.”

Asked how many times he’s watched the video of his game-winning shot since Friday, Griffin answered, “Oh, maybe 200.”

How many times the sophomore dreamt of a similar scenario in practice, no one can say—probably more than 200. But even Griffin might not have imagined something so unlikely. Gallatin County had won just 11 games against 17 losses coming into the game. Three of those losses had come to Owen County.

But on Friday, it was Griffin’s team cutting down the nets. And it was his new family smiling the biggest.

Griffin is the newest member of it.

The teenager had been living in a foster home in Ludlow up until last year. Then his coach at Ludlow High School, Dan Sullivan, retired from the position to take an assistant coaching role at Gallatin County, where his son, Vance Sullivan, is head coach.

Griffin followed him to Gallatin County.

Said Vance, “My dad was the head coach at Ludlow, which is where Matt previously went to. He was living with a foster parent in Ludlow, and he was going to get put out of that foster home, and my father decided to take him in.”

The Sullivan family officially adopted Griffin on Feb. 14—Valentine’s Day.

“It was a special moment for all of our family,” Vance said.

The head coach couldn’t contain himself after Griffin scored the three-pointer that tied the game and then the three-pointer that won it.

“I didn’t know what to do,” Vance said. “Nobody plans, you know, ‘This is how you’re going to react.’ I thought I was on the sideline the whole time jumping up and down, but as I watched, I went all the way out to the middle of the floor! I think I was just looking for someone to hug. It was a great moment.”

He adds it’s fitting Griffin is rewarded for his hard work and positive demeanor.

“Proud of the person that he’s becoming,” Vance said. “He shows up every day with a smile on his face for the most part, and I’m proud of him and proud that he’s in my family.”

As for Griffin, the sophomore appears to have a bright future ahead of him now that he has solid ground beneath his feet. The talent is obvious. So is the confidence.

Asked how many times he’s attempted the game-winning shot since he nailed it, Griffin said he tried it Monday in practice.

“And I hit it on the first try.”

Gallatin County plays in the regional tournament on Thursday.

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