When Ovi Johnson let go of a 3-point rainbow in the final seconds of the semifinals of the Blue Springs School District Basketball Tournament at Blue Springs High School, a large, colorful student cheering section went crazy.
However, when the ball hit nothing but net with .1 of a second left on the clock in a thriller against Rockhurst, they realized the Jaguars trailed 44-43 and could do nothing as the Hawklets inbounded the ball as time ran off the clock.
It was a frustrating end to a frustrating loss as South held the Hawklets to just 10 first-half points and 22 points through three quarters.
But the Hawklets scored 22 points in the fourth quarter to claim the win and move onto the 6 p.m. Saturday championship game against defending Class 6A Arkansas state champion Fort Smith Northside.
South held onto a slim 23-22 lead going into the fourth quarter when the Hawklets took their first lead at 6:02 on a 3-point basket by Ben Walsh.
Johnson then hit one of two free throws to knot the score at 25-all, and the game remained a cat-and-mouse match until the final seconds.
The Hawklets came up big at the free throw line, hitting their first seven attempts and finishing 11 of 13.
“It was so frustrating,” South guard Johnny George said, “because we played with so much intensity the first half and it was like we got tired or something in the second half. We weren’t the same team.”
But George said he and his teammates will have plenty to get excited about Saturday as they meet crosstown rival Blue Springs in the third-place game at 4:15 p.m. Saturday.
“If you’re not playing for the championship, it’s great to play Blue Springs,” George added. “We know all about them and they know all about us and it should be an exciting game.”
Following a lengthy postgame session with his team, South coach Josh Smith detailed the highs and lows of the first loss of the season for the 3-1 Jaguars.
“In a game like this, you have to give Rockhurst a ton of credit,” Smith said. “We played tough defense the first half and they really played tough defense the entire game.
“I have not seen the film yet, so I can’t really say what happened out there, especially in the fourth quarter.”
When Smith was told the Hawklets scored 22 points in the fourth quarter, to match their total for the previous three quarters, he just shook his head.
“We need to play with the same intensity for four quarter that we played with in the first half,” Smith said.
Khayden Hooks, who scored seven of his 15 points in the fourth quarter, led the Jaguars in scoring. Devin Tomlinson, who hit two 3-pointers in the late Jaguar rally, finished with 10.
John Michael Gyllenborg led the Hawklets with 12 points.