Eagles take conference crown
Boys win on last-second shot.
With 8.8 seconds on the clock, Brady boys basketball coach Dave Jacobs gathered his team for a timeout.
With time for only one shot, Jacobs wanted to give his Eagles the best possible opportunity to pull out a first-ever championship in the Sandhills Conference tournament Friday at the McGahan Activity Center in North Platte.
Trailing 45-43 to Sandhills/Thedford, Jacobs had three perimeter shooters on the court.
The coach counted on senior Sawyer Burke to wiggle his way open for a shot, knowing Zach Mann and Bryley Roper could also put up a three-pointer.
But when the Knights smothered Burke, Eagle guard Bryley Roper dumped a pass off to 6-foot-3 post player Ryan Porter, who stood wide open about two feet behind the three-point line at the top of the key.
With barely a hesitation, Porter turned toward the basket and put the ball in the air.
The ball hit dead-on at the top of the square and plopped through the basket as the buzzer sounded, giving Brady a 46-45 victory.
“Nobody in that gym will ever forget that shot,” Jacobs said. “Porter will still be talking about it when he’s 60.”
It was the first time Porter has attempted a three-pointer in a game.
“It couldn’t happen to a nicer kid,” Jacobs said.
The buzzer-beater might have been a lucky shot but Jacobs said the Eagles didn’t get to the championship on luck.
“These kids work so hard,” he said.
The Knights and Eagles seemed evenly matched as they finished the first quarter tied 9-9.
The second period went back and forth with Brady taking a 23-19 advantage into the break after Burke was fouled on a made shot with 10.6 seconds till half.
Brady pushed ahead by as many as eight in the third quarter.
“At that time, we were feeling pretty comfortable,” Jacob said.
Then Sandhills/Thedford chipped away at the lead in the fourth until Tyler Lee tied the score at 43-43 with a bucket at the 1:30 mark.
Brady sent the Knights to the line twice in the final 41 seconds and they made 2-of-3 for the 45-43 advantage.
“I don’t think the kids ever thought we were going to lose,” Jacobs said. “I bet it was a fun game to watch. I know it was a fun one to coach.”
Mann led Brady in scoring with 16 points while Burke added 14.
Tyler Egenberger pulled down a team-high 10 rebounds.
The top-seeded Eagles, now 14-2, got to the championship game by defeating Arthur County 54-43 in the semi-finals on Thursday.
Burke and Mann led the way with 17 points each.
Brady remains at No. 8 in the Omaha World-Herald rankings. The Eagles will travel to Hyannis (1-10) on Friday with only two more regular-season games left before sub-district play.
Brady hosts Medicine Valley on Feb. 10 and Sandhills/Thedford on Feb. 17.
The Eagles have not given up a game at home this year, including the entire football season.
Jacobs said he believes the players won’t allow a loss on home territory.
“We’ve still go a lot to play for so we can’t let up at all,” Jacobs said of the remaining games. “If any of those teams beat us, it will make their whole season. We’ve just got to be ready for anything”