By BRETT MARSHALL
HUTCHINSON — Even the best screen writer could not have scripted it this way.
With the Class 3A state championship game tied at 53, and six seconds showing on the clock, Scott City sophomore Brett O'Neil put up a baseline jumper that missed.
But the Beavers' on-court leader, senior Ron Baker, grabbed the errant shot after teammate Mason Turner tipped it to him, found an uncontested avenue to the basket, and scored the game-winning shot with 2.6 seconds remaining to give Scott City a dramatic 55-53 victory over Minneapolis at the Sports Arena on Saturday night.
"I guess it's just luck sometimes that you're in the right place," Baker said.
Minneapolis was out of timeouts and the clock simply ran out after the ball dropped through the net.
The usually mild-mannered Baker ran off the Sam Butterfield Court to where the Scott City fans were located, and leaped in the air. He was joined by his teammates in a brief, but wild celebration.
"I knew it was short, and then I got knocked down so I didn't see where it went," said O'Neil of his last-second miss. "But (Baker) deserves it. He's been the one working hard every day. He leads by example. He's the one that gave us all the talks before our games. This was for him and the other seniors."
Turner, one of the unsung heroes of this Beavers team who finished with four points and five rebounds, was the one who tipped of the ball and paved the way for the final basket.
"I was on the post and somehow just managed to tip it to Ron," Turner said. "I spun around and put my hand up. The play that started it was Ron penetrated and then kicked it off to Brett. Ron still made the play at the end. This is the best day of my life. It's simply amazing."
The dramatic victory gave the Beavers their third state championship in school history. The first, in 1958, came in Class A when there were just four classes of schools in Kansas. The second came in 2006, when the Beavers captured the Class 4A crown at Salina. Scott City has also played in the championship game three other times, and lost — 1960 (Class A), 1979 (Class 4A) and 2007 (Class 3A).
"I think this one is different in that the other one (2006) was expected," Glenn O'Neil said when asked how this one felt. "This one is special because we got Collegiate in the semifinals and we were able to finish it tonight. I think since the Dodge City game (62-58 loss in the finals of the Dodge Tournament of Champions in mid-January), we've had a bullet aimed at us. But it's gone — it missed us."
Baker closed out his spectacular career with a 26-point performance (10-of-20 field goals) to go along with a game-high 11 rebounds, two assists, three steals and three blocked shots. The younger O'Neil added 13 points for the Beavers.
After trailing 27-20 at the half, Minneapolis senior Casy Arganbright helped his team rally.
He first made an eight-footer from the lane with 1:14 left, and Dylan Crosson, who finished with 12 points, made 1-of-2 free throws just seconds later after being fouled when Arganbright converted a shot.
Brett O'Neil made two free throws at 1:07 to make it 52-47 but it was Arganbright to the rescue again. His first trey at the 50-second mark sliced the lead to 52-50 before Braeden Robinson put the Beavers up by three by making the first of two free throws with 36 seconds on the clock.
Arganbright, who had missed all seven of his shots until the closing 74 seconds, came down once again and drained the tying 3-pointer at 22.1 seconds.
After Arganbright knocked down his second 3-pointer with less than a minute left to tie the score, Minneapolis called a timeout and gave coach O'Neil time to give instructions to his players.
What O'Neil then said just before the players broke the huddle to return to the floor was what one would expect with a player like Baker.
"I looked at Ron and said, 'you're the senior, you're the all-stater, go make a play,'" O'Neil said.
That set up the final dramatic moments for the Beavers.
And for Baker to make the play of the season, and the play of his career.
It wasn't a driving pull-up jumper, or a deep 3-pointer, but it was a play when his team needed it most.
"You dream about this as a kid," Baker said. "I was a seventh grader when they won in 2006 and an eighth grader when they lost in 2007. This is what I've dreamed of being able to play for since I can remember.
"It's an unbelievable feeling. I've got great coaches, great teammates. We did it together."
Scott City 15 12 13 15 -- 55
Minneapolis 17 3 13 20 -- 53
Scott City (25-1) — O'Neil 5-13 2-2 13, Turner 1-4 2-4 4, Roemer 0-0 0-0 0, Baker 10-20 3-4 26, Robinson 3-4 1-1 7, Hess 0-1 0-2 0, Meyer 1-1 0-0 2, Kite 1-3 1-2 3. Totals 21-46 8-14 55.
Minneapolis (23-3) — Arganbright 3-10 1-2 9, Macy 0-1 0-0 0, An. Yoxall 2-5 1-3 5, Geroge 9-17 1-3 23, Daugherty 1-2 1-2 3, Al. Yoxall 0-0 1-2 1, Allison 0-0 0-0 0, Crosson 2-3 8-9 12. Totals 17-38 13-21 53.
3-point goals--Scott City 5-17 (O'Neil 1-7, Baker 3-9, Robinson 1-1), Minneapolis 6-10 (Arganbright 2-3, George 4-7). Rebounds — Scott City 30 (Baker 11), Minneapolis 24 (Crosson 9). Turnovers--Scott City 14, Minneapolis 17. Assists--Scott City 12 (O'Neil 5), Minneapolis 5 (An. Yoxall 2). Blocked shots--Scott City 3 (Baker 3), Minneapolis 2 (George 1, Crosson 1). Steals--Scott City 8 (Baker 3), Minneapolis 6 (Arganbright 2, George 2). Fouls--Scott City 19, Minneapolis 17. Fouled out--Minneapolis (Macy, George).