Hillsboro had its chances to be the heartbreakers, but ended up on the painful end of a 46-45 loss in the Class 3A sub-state semifinal in Marion on Friday night.
With the outcome looking bleak for Hillsboro, trailing 44-40 with 20 seconds to play, Daniel Jost gave the Trojans life when he swished a 3-pointer from the wing with 17.5 seconds left.
Hillsboro called an immediate timeout and tried to deny the inbounds pass. When that failed, Ben Bebermeyer immediately fouled Lawson Kingsley, who calmly made both ends of a one-and-one with 14.1 seconds to play.
Training by three, Hillsboro quickly brought the ball into the forecourt, but Bebermeyer was fouled before the Trojans could launch a shot. Bebermeyer made both ends of his one-and-one with 6.0 seconds left to pull the Trojans to within 46-45.
With neither team having a timeout, Sedgwick inbounded the ball but the Trojans knocked it loose and the ball ended up in the hands of David Loewen. Guarded in the paint, he kicked the ball out to an open Bebermeyer on the wing. But the sophomore dead-eye came up short on the shot and the buzzer sounded to end the game and the Trojans? season.
The contest started on a shaky note for the Trojans. Beber?meyer scored the first basket of the game on a steal 25 seconds into the contest, but the Trojans turned the ball over seven times and missed two shots in their next nine possessions, enabling Sedgwick to take a 7-2 lead.
Both teams scored two more buckets in the final 2:28 to give Sedgwick an 11-6 lead at the first break. Hillsboro committed 11 turnovers by the end of the opening period.
The Trojans seemed to gather themselves in the second period and, with Loewen being a major force in the middle, regained the lead at 14-13 when Loewen made a pair of free throws at the 5:21 mark.
Then, with less then two minutes left in the half, Clay Shewey, who was released to play this game after suffering a concussion 10 days earlier, hit back-to-back 3-pointers to lift HHS from a 19-16 deficit to a 22-19 lead with 1:09 left in the half.
The Trojans clung to a 22-21 lead at intermission.
Hillsboro maintained a thin lead throughout the third quarter and carried a 32-30 advantage into the final period.
Jake Napper hit a 3-pointer for Sedgwick to give the Cardinals a 33-32 edge with 6:57 left. As it turned out, Sedgwick never relinquished the lead. Kingsley hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 4:55 to go for a 36-32 margin.
The lead was still at two points, 42-40, when Sedgwick?s Bryce Douvier threw up a 3-pointer that badly missed the mark. But teammate Daniel Little, the team?s 6-foot-5 post, with a great effort, kept the ball from going out of bounds and bounced it off Bebermeyer to save the possession for the Cardinals.
On the inbounds play, Little scored for a 44-40 lead and a major swing of momentum toward Sedgwick with 51 seconds to play.
The Trojans lost the ball on the ensuing possession, but got it right back when Bebermeyer made the steal. Shewey, though, couldn?t finish the layup on the transition drive. Hillsboro retained possession with 20.1 seconds to go, setting up the final frantic scenario.
As with any close loss, the ?what ifs? are plentiful. One factor was turnovers, with Hills?boro finishing with 22 compared to 12 for Sedgwick.
Another key factor was sub-par shooting from the outside. Loewen was a force to be reckoned with in the paint, making eight of 13 shots from the field and three of four free-throws for a game high 19 points.
But Hillsboro?s generally sharp-shooting guards combined for 8-for-21 accuracy, including 4-for-12 shooting from behind the arc.
Loewen pulled down 13 rebounds to add to his outstanding career-ending performance.
With the loss, Hillsboro?s season ends with a 14-8 record, while Sedgwick, led by 15 points from Kingsley and 13 from Napper, improved to 20-2 and will face undefeated Hutchinson Trinity in Saturday?s championship game.