A packed house, two great teams and a one-point final margin.
Those were the ingredients for an instant classic at the Lourdes gym on Friday night as the Lourdes boys’ basketball team battled down to the very last second before falling by the final of 66-65 against a Boys Town team that boasted a top flight Division I collegiate talent in Teddy Allen.
The Lourdes Knights have a top flight talent of their own in Hayden Miller, who poured in points and, combined with some solid efforts from his teammates, gave the home team every chance to win on Friday.
First quarter action saw Boys Town hit a three-point shot and Miller respond with a three-pointer.
It was Allen who had the last shot of that first frame and the Cowboys had a 17-10 lead.
Three buckets by Quinten Vasa and three buckets by Miller, including two three-pointers, had Lourdes down 30-26 at the break.
Miller had the Knights first eight points of the second half as well, including a trio of three-pointers, the last of which put the Knights ahead 37-35. Allen responded with a three-pointer and Boys Town was back on top with 2:09 left in the frame.
Buckets by Brandon Fredrichs, Miller and Brock Hogeland gave Lourdes a 43-40 lead entering the final quarter.
Two slam dunks punctuated a Boys Town offensive that had the visitors on a 14-4 run that put the Cowboys up 54-47 with under two minutes left in the game.
From that point to the finish, Lourdes was forced to foul and, despite seeing the Cowboys hit 12-of-12 at the line, was still finding a way to stay in the game.
A Vasa three-point shot made the margin 56-50. Miller hit a three-pointer that made it 58-53 and on the next possession was fouled while taking a three-pointer only to make all three free throws to cut it to 60-56. A Vasa three-pointer made it 62-59 and a Miller three-pointer made it 64-62.
After Boys Town hit free throws 11 and 12, Miller hit a three-point shot at the buzzer to make the final 66-65.
Coach Joe Tynon said the Knight defense was doing what it needed to do in the final moments by fouling the right player. Two of the players who hit free throws for Boys Town had season averages in the 50 percent range. One miss makes it an overtime game. Two misses makes it a Knight win.
They didn’t miss.
“Kudos to them. They made free throws down the stretch,” said Tynon. “Our fans did a great job. It was a great environment, and, to come into this place and make key free throws down the stretch. That’s clutch.”
The Lourdes coach also gave credit to the fight his guys showed.
“Kudos to us for not giving up and for making it a one-point game,” he said.
That doesn’t mean everyone is satisfied. Coach Tynon said the team can’t be. They understand how it easily could have gone their way.
“Two possessions of good, clean defense or better offense and we win this game out right,” said Tynon. “We don’t want a moral victory. We can’t be satisfied.”
What’s going to make the difference for the Knight team going forward. Tynon said it comes down to the fine details.
Boxing out for instance. Not to say that it would have been easy, but better box out efforts would have kept Boys Town from some of its nine first half offensive rebounds.
Coach Tynon said those little details are ones that Lourdes has to figure out yet. The coach says his team has been talented enough that even when the Knights don’t take care of the finer details, they still win.
If Lourdes commits to ironing out the finer points, this season can be a special one, like last year’s, which ended with a state championship trophy.
Definitely a big part of the season’s promise, Friday night’s success and many of the wins comes down to the difference making ability of Miller. And all of his skill was definitely on display on Friday.
In the fourth quarter, he was making big shot after big shot. It’s not like this is a new development.
“Hayden was amazing,” said Coach Tynon. “He’s been tremendous for us for four years.”
The coach remembers Miller’s freshman year, when he came off the bench to help an talented Lourdes team win in the postseason. He didn’t shy away from the big moment then.
And he definitely didn’t shy away from it on Friday.
Miller finished with four two-point shots, nine three-point shots and 3-of-3 free throws for 38 points. Allen led Boys Town with 10 two-point shots, a trio of three point shots and 5-of-5 free throws for 34 points.
Other players scoring for the Knights were Vasa, 16; Fredrichs, five; Thomas Ragland, four; and Brock Hogeland, two.