Austin Miller had barely caught a look over his shoulder when he passed the ball behind his back to his Lawrence teammates. The ball wound up in the hands of Blue Valley North senior Keilon Hunter.
BV North trailed 35-33 with less than three minutes remaining in the Kansas Class 6A semifinals on Friday at Charles Koch Arena. The Mustangs had just clawed their way back into contention after trailing by eight at the end of the third quarter. They had no time to waste, and Miles Emery took a pass from Colby Bullock to tie the game five seconds later.
But Lawrence, which had begun the game in a rut of its own, didn’t give up a lead. Miller atoned for his mistake with a layup, and freshman Clarence King took it back to the hoop in the final five seconds.
So after fending off Bullock’s game-tightening three-pointer and Emery’s tying layup, Lawrence beat Blue Valley North 41-36 to reach the 6A championship game.
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“I’m just really proud of the way our guys decided to say, ‘let’s just play some defense and get after it,’” Lawrence coach Mike Lewis said. “‘You know what, you’re not going to take this from me.’ These guys just came together.”
It didn’t look like Lawrence was going to have much of a chance. Kobe Buffalomeat and Anthony Selden were assessed technical fouls in pregame warm-ups for violating KSHSAA rules on dunking, giving Blue Valley North a 4-0 start before the clock had even begun.
But when BV North led 13-2 with 3:16 remaining in the first quarter, Lawrence’s offense geared up for a 7-0 run capped by a King three-pointer at the buzzer ending the first quarter.
King finished with the team lead of 17 points and four rebounds. Jackson Mallory, who gave Lawrence its first lead on a three-pointer in the second quarter, added 12 points and another three-point play.
“Wednesday, (King) was nervous and just a little bit shook up with the atmosphere, in my opinion,” Lewis said. “But once he gets loose and comfortable, watch out. He’s a talented player.”
Emery had 14 points and seven rebounds for BV North. Bullock added 11 points, three assists and two steals.
Blue Valley North (17-7) will play in the third-place game on Saturday afternoon. Lawrence (17-7) will play in the championship game, which is scheduled to start at 6:15 p.m.