It was too loud in the gym to hear the final buzzer, but the game officials said Blue Valley West junior Ryan Ralston had beaten it — and that was all that mattered.
By TOD PALMER
The Kansas City Star
In a game that featured six lead changes in the final 2 minutes, 14 seconds, Ralston’s layup off a slick no-look wraparound pass from senior Conley Wilkins was the difference in a 43-42 win over Olathe South in the Olathe Northwest Class 6A substate Bracket A final.
With the victory, the Jaguars, 13-9, qualified for state for the sixth time in program history and the first since 2011.
“Either team could have won the ballgame,” BV West coach Donnie Campbell said. “We just had the ball last and Conley just did a good job driving in there.”
During the first three quarters, the Jaguars’ other senior, Joey Lillis, put the visitors on his back. He had a double-double by the end of the third quarter and was the driving force behind a 33-28 lead.
But the Falcons, 16-6, who shot 37.5 percent for the game, got hot late and nearly rallied to victory.
Midway through the fourth quarter, Olathe South senior Devin Ruis — who had missed all seven shots he’d attempted, including four three-pointers — swished a bomb from the right corner to cut the Jaguars’ lead to 37-35.
With 2:14 remaining, Ruis rainbowed in another three from the same spot to push the Falcons into the lead for the first time since early in the third quarter.
That’s when the seesaw really got going.
BV West sophomore Connor Kaiser answered with a runner in the paint for a 39-38 lead.
Olathe South junior Noah Knight, who is listed at 6-feet-1, powered home a 5-foot bank shot while sandwiched between the Jaguars’ 6-7 forwards, Lillis and sophomore Blaise Gammon.
Gammon then answered at the other end to put BV West back in front.
With 15.5 seconds left, Falcons senior David Nelson found Knight — who finished with team-highs for points (12), rebounds (six) and assists (five) — on a curl to the left block for another go-ahead bucket.
The Falcons had three fouls to give and whittled six seconds off the clock before the game’s final sequence.
Kaiser started from the left wing with 4 seconds remaining before dishing to Wilkins at the right elbow. He dribbled into the paint and, well, let the Jags’ senior (and star running back during football season) tell it.
“I was about to shoot the ball, but then I saw Ralston come down and sneak behind the defense,” Wilkins said. “I just gave him a nice little dish and he got the points.”
Of course, the flip side of joy is heartbreak.
“You just tell them how sorry you are and disappointed for them, because you played a whale of a game,” Olathe South coach Jim Carr said.
To reach Tod Palmer, call 816-234-4389 or send email to email@example.com.