By BRETT MARSHALL
LEOTI — With 14 seconds left in regulation Saturday in the Class 2A sub-state championship game, Syracuse coach Bill Peeper called a timeout to draw up what he believed would be the play to score and be the winning points against top-seeded Spearville.
Everything seemed to work, except for one thing.
Bulldog senior Tate Housholder, fouled on the inbounds play with 5.3 seconds left, went to the line. A 70 percent season free thrower, Housholder missed both of what would have been the potential winning points. The game went into overtime and Spearville hung on for a 59-58 victory, assuring them of a trip to the Class 2A state tournament in Manhattan.
With the game knotted at 50-50, Syracuse had stolen the ball from the Lancers with 30 seconds showing on the clock.
What resulted after the Syracuse timeout was an inbounds pass to guard Andrew Brown, who waited for Housholder to make his cut around a double screen to grab the ensuing pass with a clear lane to the basket. Housholder put up the shot, missed it off the rim but was fouled by the Lancers' 6-foot-10 sophomore center Willie Cauley.
"It was the perfect play for us and everybody executed it just the way we had it drawn up," Peeper said of the closing play in regulation. "We had Tate at the free throw line and there's no reason not to pick him to be the guy I'd want at the line in that situation. It's just unfortunate that they didn't go in."
In the four-minute overtime, the Lancers, whose only loss this year was to South Gray, took control at the outset as senior Carson Konrade made a driving layup just 14 seconds into the extra period. Thirty seconds later he added a pair of free throws to put Spearville up 54-50.
Grabbing an errant pass from the Spearville defenders under his own basket, Brown laid it in for an easy basket with 2:47 to play, and it was 54-52. Cauley powered a close-in shot with 1:51 to go and Hunter Heiland knocked down a 15-footer from the wing at 1:20 to put the Lancers up by six. Brown's fifth 3-point of the game came with 48 seconds to cut the margin to 58-55. With time running out, Konrade was fouled with 7 secconds remaining and he hit the second free throw to make it a two-possession game. James Burkett's open 3-pointer just before the final buzzer closed out the scoring and as Spearville won.
"It was everything you'd want in a high school game," Peeper said. "The only problem is that we didn't get it on our side. We had every belief that we would win the game, from before, during to the very end. A coach couldn't ask for anything more from his team than I got out of these kids. I wouldn't trade them for anybody."
A senior point guard, Brown had a huge final game. He buried 5-of-8 3-pointers, 10-of-19 total from the field for a game-high 25 points. He also grabbed six rebounds while Housholder scored 13 points and had a team-high nine rebounds. Konrade finished with 22 points, but was just 6-of-17 from the floor. Cauley was limited to eight points but did grab 13 rebounds and blocked five shots.
"You just can't practice for that," Peeper said of Cauley. "He had some big blocks and was a nuisance inside. We did our best against him I thought. Tate hit some big shots against him and that's the reason we were in it at the end."
Spearville led at the end of the first quarter 13-9, then proceeded to score the first six points of the second quarter. The Bulldogs, though, closed the half with a flurry on a 13-3 run. Brown knocked down two deep 3-pointers and added a follow shot to tie the game at 22-22 at the break.
"We were absolutely where we wantged to be," Peeper said. "I thought at first we weren't aggressive enough and we were too passive. But we then started going to the goal stronger and that got us back in the game."
At the end of the third quarter, Spearville led 38-37 with its biggest margin just three points. There were three ties and four lead changes. In the fourth quarter, there were five ties and seven lead changes.
Syracuse was looking for its fifth straight trip to the state after finishing third a year ago. The last time the Bulldogs dropped a sub-state title game was 2005 when they lost to Quinter, also in overtime, and also at the Wichita County gym.
Spearville 59, Syracuse 58 (OT)
SYRACUSE (18-5) — Howell 0-0 0-0 0, Parks 1-1 0-0 2, Brown 10-19 0-0 25, B. Simon 1-4 3-4 5, Housholder 6-16 1-5 13, Petersen 4-6 0-0 8, D. Simon 0-1 0-0 0, Burkett 2-6 0-0 5, McAllister 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 24-53 4-9 58.
SPEARVILLE (22-1) — Imel 2-3 0-0 5, Ackerman 4-11 6-7 14, King 2-3 0-0 4, Cauley 4-7 0-2 8, Stein 1-1 0-1 2, Heiland 2-3 0-0 4, Thacker 0-1 0-3 0, Konrade 6-17 9-14 22. Totals 21-47 15-27 59.
Syracuse 9 13 15 13 8 -- 58
Spearville 13 9 16 12 9 -- 59
3-point goals — Syracuse 6-11 (Brown 5-8, B. Simon 0-1, Housholder 0-1, Burkett 1-1), Spearville 2-9 (Imel 1-2, Konrade 1-7). Rebounds — Syracuse 30 (Housholder 9), Spearville 30 (Cauley 13). Turnovers — Syracuse 16, Spearville 19. Fouls — Syracuse 19, Spearville 11. Fouled out — None.