As Tuesday night’s Class 5 District 15 Tournament semifinals unfolded, it appeared the championship game would be an all-Liberty final.
Daniel Carson, Dawson Herl and their William Chrisman teammates decided that wouldn’t happen.
With Chrisman trailing the Liberty North Eagles 57-55 in overtime of the late semifinal at Truman, Carson finished a traditional three-point play with 14.3 seconds left to give Chrisman a one-point lead. Herl then sank two free throws with 7.4 seconds left to help the Bears pull off a 60-57 win.
The Bears (11-15) will face Liberty at 6 p.m. Friday at Truman for the title.
“People were counting on us not to win that game – and it feels good, winning a big game like that,” said Carson, who paced the Bears with 16 points, followed by Kelvyn Mason with 13. “They’re a great team, obviously – Liberty North. And I’m just glad that we can play another good team (Liberty) in the finals.”
Carson helped Chrisman advance by rebounding two of his own missed shots and putting back the third to draw the foul that sent him to the line. He rattled in his free throw to complete the traditional three-point play.
To Chrisman boys basketball coach Jake Kates, the senior forward’s field goal before the free throw symbolized Chrisman’s season – and Carson’s life.
“He’s had to work for everything,” Kates said.
Herl made a steal and was fouled driving to the bucket to set up his two free throws.
“I saw it was a handoff and just jumped the pass,” said the junior guard, who finished with 10 points. “And he pretty much threw it right to me…. It felt good to go to the free throw line and have the game in my hands to push it to three.”
Chrisman threatened to push it to four or five when Bryan Cox was fouled and went to the line. He missed his two foul shots, prompting Liberty North to throw up an ill-fated 3-point attempt from mid-court at the buzzer. It bounced off the rim and the Bears advanced to Friday’s 6 p.m. championship game against Liberty.
Having held off the Eagles, Kates is ready for the Blue Jays Friday.
“They’re a good team, got a great point guard,” he said. “But you know what? I’ll walk into any battle, any game with the group of guys I’ve got in my locker room.”
LIBERTY 52, TRUMAN 44: Truman threatened to make it an all-Independence final with a second-half comeback attempt in Tuesday’s early semifinal.
Trailing 35-17 about midway through the third quarter, the Patriots eventually worked their way back to within three (46-43) late in the fourth quarter before falling 52-44 to Liberty. The Patriots finished 4-22.
“I think that we really made tons of progress,” Patriots coach Rod Briggs said of his young team. “And we finished the season playing our best basketball – and that’s what you want to do.”
Sophomore Samuel Billimon helped Truman finish in a way that pleased Briggs, leading the Patriots with 12 points. Seniors Jordan Mabry and Keaton Wiley each finished their careers at Truman with eight.
Senior Jalen Lewis helped the Blue Jays secure their meeting with Chrisman by pouring in 23 points. Senior Brock Matson added 15.