Tied with West Platte with zero seconds remaining on the game clock, Bishop LeBlond junior Isaac Ferguson stepped up to the free-throw line at the west end of Grace Gymnasium.
As the crowd grew quiet, the forward dribbled while shifting his focus to making one shot on three attempts. He sunk the game-winning basket on the first try, giving the Golden Eagles a 65-64 win.
“Obviously I was nervous,” Ferguson said. “I was just glad to hit the shot. Just dribbling there, trying to calm myself down, I mean I made it. I was proud of myself and my teammates.”
Seconds earlier, LeBlond (1-0) sophomore guard Chris Guldan hit a basket from inside the paint to tie the game.
The Blue Jays (0-1) had a chance to take their lead back a few moments later as senior Miles DeMayo took two free throws. He missed both.
“I felt terrible for their kids, because that’s just a heartbreaking move, then they foul our guy 50 feet from the basket,” LeBlond coach Mitch Girres said. “Unfortunately, that’s just how the breaks go.”
Both teams exchanged leads several times throughout the game. West Platte led through the majority of the first quarter, before Guldan hit two back-to-back 3-point shots to give the Eagles a 13-12 lead at the end of the first quarter.
LeBlond also led at the end of the second and third quarters. It does not represent the momentum the Blue Jays had, coming mostly in the fourth quarter.
“Coming in, I really felt like this was going to be a 50-50 game and it proved to be really the entire game,” West Platte coach Ryan Nichols said. “I knew it would come down to a final play, and it did.
Guldan lead LeBlond with 19 points, nine coming from beyond the arc. Sophomore guard Marcos Dominguez was right behind with 16, hitting four 3-pointers.
West Platte also saw success in individual shooting, led by senior Brayden Cogan’s 17 and senior Phillip Pattison’s 16.
“We scored a lot of points, but we didn’t prevent a lot of points from being scored, which is a big problem for us going forward,” Girres said.
Following DeMayo’s missed free throws, LeBlond Sophomore Jake Korell rebounded the ball. With four seconds left on the clock, he fed it to Ferguson with the game tied 64-64.
With the help of Pattison and freshman Xavier Reynolds, West Platte began to pressure Ferguson.
Ferguson cleared the lane, but Reynolds returned while jumping to block a potential shot. He ended up landing on Ferguson’s hands as the ball flew into the air.
The whistle blew with no time remaining, signifying a foul. It allowed LeBlond to win the game.
“That’s a tough one for a freshman that will learn… I feel for that kid,” Nichols said.