KEARNEY, Mo. – Jake Kates has seen a number of close losses this year, but perhaps Friday's setback will be one that sticks with the William Chrisman coach for a while.
The Bears saw a nine-point, fourth-quarter lead dwindle and ultimately, North Kansas City got the game-winning bucket with 6.2 seconds on the clock to win 64-61 in the semifinals of the Bulldog Classic held at Kearney High School.
The loss is the eighth of the year for the Bears and seven of them have been by one possession – a combined 19 points was the difference in those seven setbacks.
“Not much feels good right now,” Kates said. “We are a young team. I'm proud of them. We are not happy. We feel like we are just as talented as that team, they just have been winning games at the end of the clock. We are excited we get to play them two more times in conference.”
North Kansas City, the No. 5-ranked team in Class 5 in the latest Missouri Basketball Coaches Association poll, stayed undefeated thanks to a late rally in the fourth. The Hornets fell behind 56-47 following a 3-pointer by Dawson Herl with 5:!5 left in the contest.
A layup by Isaiah Jackson boosted the Bears (5-8) ahead 58-53, but he missed the free throw after attempt after drawing a foul with 3:44 left. With about 3 minutes, Daniel Carson made a bucket for the Bears, but was called for a charge and negated the points that would've made it 60-54.
Instead, Yonathan Elfu scored on the other end. A steal by the Hornets and a basket by Lance Rogers tied the game at 58 with 2:18 left.
Jackson hit a free throw with 1:51 left and a bucket by Bryan Cox with 1:29 left gave Chrisman a 61-58 lead.
T.J. Babikir hit only 1 of 4 free throws over the next 30 seconds, but a tie-up on a rebound on a miss with 58.2 seconds left gave the ball back to the Hornets. On the ensuing possession, Deng Bol scored on a layup to tie the game at 61 with 48.2 seconds left.
Chrisman turned the ball over and then with 6.2 seconds left, Eric Slack scored on a drive and dish from Babikir, who had a game-high 26 for the Hornets (14-0).
Chrisman was fouled with 3.2 seconds left and Tony Hilton went to the line and missed both. Babikir got the rebound and went to the line, but missed his second attempt and a rebound by Chrisman gave them a chance but a shot from near midcourt by Jackson missed the target at the buzzer.
“Everything really went wrong that could go wrong leading up to this game,” North Kansas City coach Gerry Marlin said, mentioning the team bus to Kearney was 45 minutes late picking them up. “Everything was screwed up from the very start. Everything we did was a struggle. Bless their heart, they did a lot of good things and shot out of their mind. I feel very fortunate to win the game.”
Chrisman held the lead after the first three quarters and started out with a 14-4 lead, thanks in large part to Kelvyn Mason, who had nine points. North Kansas City made it 14-10 after one and took its first lead with 5 minutes to go in the second.
The Bears rallied behind a 9-0 run by Herl, who hit two 3-pointers and added a three-point play. The 6-foot-4 junior had a team-high 25 for the Bears.
“We were probably the only ones that walked in here tonight expecting us to win,” Kates said. “We are disappointed it didn't happen.”
KEARNEY 64, FORT OSAGE 47: Prolonged scoring droughts by the Indians in the first half put the Bulldogs back in the championship game again, a familiar spot for the two-time defending champions.
Now, Chrisman and Fort Osage will play for third place at 4 p.m. Saturday.
The Indians went up 7-5 in the first quarter after a layup and free throw from Ty Baker, but Kearney (7-5) went on a 13-2 run to close the first quarter. The rally started on a 3-pointer by Gunnar Carpenter and four other players scored during the streak.
A 9-2 run to open the second quarter pushed the lead for the Bulldogs (7-5) to 14 points with 4:44 left and by halftime the lead stood at 33-19.
Fort Osage (4-8) cut what was a 16-point deficit down to 10 late in the third quarter following a 3-pointer from Nick Dye with 1:29 left. Kearney answered with a 3-pointer by Carpenter on the next possession to extend the lead back to 13.
The Indians got a layup from Dez Griswold early in the fourth to get the deficit to nine for the first time since the second quarter, but a 3-point play from Carpenter followed. That was part of a 13-2 run that sealed the win for the Bulldogs.
“We talked about how they don't pressure you or trap you but they caused us to turn the ball over a lot and they caused that the last time too,” Fort Osage coach Josh Wilson said, referencing a 62-48 loss to Kearney on Dec. 12 at the same location. “We had guys dribble right into their guys and get in trouble and we couldn't get out of it.”