If you were not there, you could not feel the stress or the madness.
For the second time in as many nights, the Tolton Trailblazers held a solid lead over the SoBoCo Eagles.
For the second time in as many nights, the Eagles created opportunities on defense to help their offense get going.
Call it: “SoBoCo Defeats Tolton, Part II,” or call it “An Instant Classic – Eagles finally beat Tolton,” – or call it what you will, Southern Boone’s 53-51 semifinal Class 3, District 9 win will be remembered for years to come.
With the game tied at 49-49 and barely 30-seconds left in the game, Eagles senior Maguire Scheer anticipated a pass to Tolton star Isaiah Wilson, deflected it down court and was hammered on his layup attempt.
“The pass wasn’t thrown as hard as it could have been,” Scheer said of his steal.
Scheer nailed both free throws, but the Trailblazers came back to tie the game 51-51 on a pair of free throws by Beau Washer.
15.7 seconds remained.
Sophomore Sam Stichnote got the ball above the 3-point line, in the center of the court. With slight head fake, Stichnote took off down the lane, leaped, was hit by three Tolton defenders, and let the ball fall through the net.
Wilson’s desperation heave in the last second was blocked by the friendly rafters of the Blair Oaks fieldhouse and SoBoCo had erased the memory of two years of playoff losses to the Regional Catholic basketball machine.
Both teams had opportunities early to take command, yet neither team could muster the offense.
The Eagles played tight in the first quarter, turning the ball over three times in the first three minutes and allowing Tolton to dictate the pace of the game. However, the Trailblazers did not capitalize simply because their only offense was Wilson. Without anyone else to make a shot, the Trailblazers trailed at the end of the first quarter 16-14.
But Tolton came back in the second frame and forced the Eagles to commit fouls in the lane. Zane Safely, 15 points, kept the Eagles in the game, but Wilson hit a 3-point shot at the buzzer to give Tolton a 26-23 lead at the break.
After Tolton built their lead in the third quarter, Safely, Taggart, 13 points, and Stichnote led the comeback. The Eagles went on a 9-0 run to erase the 11-point Tolton lead, scoring on six of their next seven possessions.
“We had to claw our way back,” Jahnsen said, “I’m just super proud of our boys.”
Remember the district loss at South Callaway two years ago, when the Eagles attempted to slow the game to a crawl?
Eagles coach Andy Jahnsen did.
Remember when the Eagles attempted to play the future state champs straight up last year and twice buckled under the Twin Porter Towers?
No doubt, Jahnsen remembered. And last night’s win brought tears to the coach’s eyes.
“I don’t have the words to describe it,” Jahnsen said after the win. “This is a monumental win against a great program. It’s one of those games I’ll never forget.”
Jahnsen said he remembered how tough it was to tell his team last year that their season – one of the best at Southern Boone on record – was over after the district championship. The coach said he told his players to find a way to win – and they did.
“I told them you ‘will’ your way to it, I don’t care how you do it, but find a way.”
Of course, all the talk of last night’s game now needs to be quickly put behind them – the Eagles will face another nemesis – Blair Oaks – in the title game on Saturday at 6 p.m.