By BRETT MARSHALL
DODGE CITY — In the NBA, the game is 48 minutes. In the NCAA, it is 40 minutes. At the high school level, the game in regulation lasts 32 minutes.
That will be the hard lesson learned by the Scott City Beavers in the aftermath of their 62-58 loss to host Dodge City Saturday night at the Civic Center in the championship game of the 68th annual Tournament of Champions.
The Beavers were seeking to become the first small-class school to win the prestigious tournament since Holcomb did so in 1987.
It was the first loss after 10 victories for coach Glenn O'Neil's Class 3A Beavers while the Class 6A Red Demons improved to 9-2. Both teams are state-ranked in their respective classes.
"We had our chances to put it away," said Scott City's Ron Baker, who was held to 11 points by an aggressive Red Demon defense. "It's early in the season, we'll learn from it and we now know what it takes to win this type of game."
Baker would later be named the Most Inspirational Player of the tournament.
Indeed, the Beavers were every bit on even terms with the Red Demons, who claimed their record 14th TOC title.
With five different players scoring in the third quarter, and not a one by Baker, the Beavers would lead by as many as 11 (45-34) with 1:52 to play. Dodge's Rico Hogan, a 5-10 sophomore guard, hit two critical 3-pointers late to trim the lead to 48-41 heading into the final quarter.
"Rico got hot for them," O'Neil said of Dodge City's Hogan, who finished with a game-high 26 points. That included a blistering 7-of-12 from behind the arc. "He made us pay. He had a great game."
When Brett O'Neil cashed in a pair of free throws in the opening seconds of the fourth quarter, the Beavers were on top 50-41. Then, the long-range artillery took over for the Demons. First, Benito Sotelo canned a trey before Scott City's Tyler Hess made a short jumper. Hogan then drilled two of his shots behind the arc and with 5:35 it was a 54-50 Scott City lead.
"When you play a good team like Dodge City, you have to play the entire game," Baker said.
The Beavers were forced into six costly turnovers in the final quarter, which equaled their total between first three quarters combined. In addition, they missed the front end of three 1-and-1 bonus free throw situations in the final 1:06.
"What we saw here are the types of players we don't see during the regular season," coach O'Neil said.
The last Scott City score came with 3:37 left when sophomore Drew Kite, who came off the bench to score 10 points on 5-of-7 shooting, made a layup off a pass from Baker, who had seven assists for the game. The Beavers displayed their trademark team play by dishing out 19 assists on the 24 field goals they made.
When Kite's basket went down, the Beavers were up, 58-55. Nearly two and a half minutes went by without a point scored before Dodge City's Bruce Campbell hit a 12-foot baseline jumper with 49 seconds on the clock to pull the Demons within one.
On the ensuing possession, Hogan stole the ball from Baker at midcourt and raced down for a layup with 35 seconds left and was fouled on the play. He converted the three-point play and it was 60-58 Dodge City.
Botched free throw attempts by Scott City proved costly in the late minutes of the quarter.
Brett O'Neil had missed his bonus free throw chance at 1:06, and with 21.8 seconds left, Baker's free throw rimmed out. On the missed foul shot, the ball bounced out of bounds and the officials ruled it went off a Beaver player.
On Dodge City's inbounds pass, Baker dove and somehow deflected the ball back inbounds to Brett O'Neil who then called a timeout with 17 seconds showing. Then, it was Mason Turner, whose front end of a 1-and-1 bounced off the rim.
Baker plucked the rebound from under the basket and went up for a putback with multiple Red Demons draped over him. No foul was called and the ball was last touched by Scott City giving Dodge the ball with 9.2 seconds remaining.
Terrell Brown was fouled with 6.7 seconds remaining and he cashed in both free throws to ice the victory.
In addition to his Most Inspirational Player award, Baker was named to the all-tournament team. O'Neil joined him on the 10-player squad.
The Beavers resume play Tuesday with a home game against Holcomb.
See boxscore in Scoreboard, Page B2.