A year ago, near the end of last season, Coach Joe Reed pulled his players together and told them how life would be for his Yorktown boys’ basketball team going forward. The Patriots were going all-in on “The System,” a philosophy driven by countless three-point shots, full-scale substitutions and a dizzying full-court press.

There was no turning back: Yorktown would live or die by the new order. That was 2019, but this season-long revolution must be viewed through that conversation.

There is only one rule: You cannot pass up an open shot. Reed benches players who pass up open shots. No exceptions.

Plenty of players would hesitate at the sight of a 25-foot shot and a three-point deficit with five seconds left in the district final. Chris Short did not flinch and instead slipped into a fairy tale. On the strength of his three-pointer, the underdog Patriots continued an implausible comeback and then beat South Lakes in overtime, 70-67, in Reston to claim their first district title since 2008.

Yorktown (20-5) changed everything about itself in 12 months, but not even those inside the program could have written a script like this. Short was a junior varsity point guard last season. He has come off the bench all season. He may not have been in the game with seconds left if two teammates hadn’t fouled out. Not even he could comprehend it afterward.

“It’s the best feeling” and an ear-to-ear grin were all he could muster.

“Holy crap,” Reed marveled.

In overtime, senior Aidan Stroup hit a three-pointer as pivotal as Short’s, putting Yorktown ahead 69-67 with 1:08 left. South Lakes (20-4) then needed to foul, and Short, a baby-faced sophomore, found himself with the ball again. Two Seahawks lunged for him. The whistle blew, sending Short to the free throw line. He smiled, all of a sudden comfortable amid the chaos.

He made 1 of 2 shots to push his team’s lead to three and then, with one second left, grabbed a loose ball off a missed shot and slammed it off an opposing player out of bounds to give Yorktown possession. Liam Anderson hoisted the ball toward the ceiling after he caught the inbound pass. Students rushed the court and lifted Short onto their shoulders.

Yorktown accepted the trophy, and out came a ladder and a pair of scissors. Those displays of giddiness in which winning teams cut down the nets are usually so polished. But first you have to learn how to cut them. Short went first.

“Never in my life did I think I’d be standing on a ladder, cutting down a net,” he said.