Barstow’s bid to win a second consecutive Missouri Class 3 boys basketball state championship came to a heartbreaking end on Saturday at Mizzou Arena.
Despite trailing for much of the game, Barstow battled back against Columbia Father Tolton Catholic, the top-ranked team in Class 3. But the Knights came up short in a late bid to tie the game and lost 62-60.
The drama went down to the game’s final 2 seconds. Barstow had a chance for the tie when forward Shea Rush was fouled and went to the free-throw line for two shots. Rush missed the first, then missed the second, grabbed the rebound and got off one final shot before the buzzer. It missed and Tolton Catholic players celebrated.
“I definitely liked our chances to win if we could have gotten into overtime,” said Barstow coach Billy Thomas. “Both of their big men fouled out, and we had the momentum.
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“Two more seconds and I think we would have won.”
Barstow trailed 62-57 with 46 seconds left. But with Tolton Catholic’s all-everything forward Michael Porter and Jontay Porter on the bench with five fouls, Barstow battled back.
“We didn’t lose this game at the free-throw line,” Thomas said. “We lost it much earlier.”
Much of the credit for Tolton Catholic’s victory went to Michael Porter, who already has caught the eyes of college scouts. A junior, Michael Porter scored 39 points, had 19 rebounds and added three assists.
But Barstow had an answer for Michael Porter. Jeriah Horne, a 6-7 senior forward, scored 39 points and had 14 rebounds for the Knights.
At times, the game evolved into a personal battle between the two forwards, who seemingly took turns making impressive plays.
“Jeriah is a man,” Tolton Catholic coach Jeremy Osborne said. “We knew going in that you can’t stop a guy like that. You just have to contain the other guys.
“And we did that. No one else on their team was in double figures.”
Barstow’s stingy defense kept the Knights in the game. Barstow forced nine turnovers in the first half. The Knights forced another eight turnovers in the second half and scored 26 points off those turnovers in the game.
But in the end, there was disappointment.
“This was a great game,” said Michael Porter. “This is by far the biggest game I’ve ever played in.
“Both teams played their hearts out. We were just able to hang on.”