William Chrisman coach Jake Kates had no doubt. Neither did Zachariah Rowe, nor anyone else playing, coaching or cheering for the Bears.
What they saw – and Rowe initiated – was a buzzer-beating layup smacked on the glass by a North Kansas City player. A goal-tending game-winner?
That’s not how the officials saw it.
The non-call became a non-basket, and a wild and physical game headed for overtime and a tough 69-65 loss for the Bears Tuesday night at Chrisman.
Rowe rebounded a miss by Northtown’s D’Anthony Pennington and streaked down court as the final seconds ticked away. A wild scramble after Rowe’s shot gave Northtown a shot at a half-court heave that almost fell.
But in Kate’s mind, a game that had more than its share of pushing and shoving and physical contact should have already been settled.
“It should have been a goaltending call and it wasn’t,” Kates said.
“I didn’t think it was goaltending, it was goaltending.”
So of course did Rowe, who had the best view of anybody in the gym.
“Everybody saw it, the ball was up there,” Rowe said. “But the loss is on us. That was a bad call but we have nobody to blame but ourselves.”
Chrisman (15-8, 7-3 Suburban Middle Seven) didn’t help itself with a lackluster first quarter. And the Bears were short-handed early with starter Marcus Wigfall benched until halftime for disciplinary reasons. Northtown (17-5, 7-4) took advantage of Chrisman’s sluggishness and raced out to an 11-3 lead.
“The problem was we didn’t come to play in the first half, especially in the first quarter,” Kates said. “When you’ve got guys out because they are not taking care of business and the guys that are here aren’t playing well, that’s where we lost the game.
“The goaltending call was glaring … but that’s not where we lost the game.”
Northtown led 23-14 midway through the second quarter when Chrisman – and Rowe – came to life. His 25 points led the Bears, and most of them came at crucial moments.
“He stepped up tonight and I’m really happy,” Kates said. “Friday he struggled. He had one of the worst games I’ve ever seen him play, and the way he answered back today was big-time.”
Rowe scored five points in a 7-0 run that closed the first half, including a layup just before the buzzer that brought the Bears within 23-21.
After Northtown pulled ahead 37-27 in the third quarter, Chrisman stormed back again. Rowe hit a three at the buzzer, and the Bears were within 39-35 at the end of the period.
Rowe hit a floater to start the fourth quarter, and Alex Calhoun followed with a 3-pointer for a 40-39 lead, the Bears’ first of the game.
“It started with our on-ball defense,” Rowe said. “That’s what got us our runs, that’s what got us our open shots and got us playing together as a team.”
Chrisman and Northtown swapped the lead four times before a coast-to-coast Rowe layup tied it 51-51 with 2:26 left in regulation. The Hornets went up 56-53 and the Bears tied it again with a 3-pointer from sophomore Cameron Dickerson with 26 seconds left.
Chrisman scored the first point in overtime but couldn’t keep up as Northtown went 9 of 9 from the free throw line. Pennington, who led all scorers with 27 points, hit seven of them.
Still, the Bears tied it 65-65 on a Rowe drive with 40 seconds left and had the ball down two in the final seconds. Chrisman got Isaiah Jackson open for a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 6 seconds left, but his shot fell just short.
“We had an opportunity at the end,” Kates said. “I think our last possession could have been a little bit better but we had a pretty good look.”
Dickinson scored 14 points and Jackson also reached double figures with 12 points for Chrisman. The Bears won’t have to dwell on this loss too long – Chrisman and Northtown will meet again March 3 in the first round of the Class 5 District 15 tournament.
“We’ll be ready for that one,” Rowe said.