Hillsboro High School boys’ basketball player Ben Bebermeyer doubled over and hung his head in his hands.
Throughout the year, the hot-shooting sophomore has been one Hillsboro has been able to count on to hit some clutch shots.
Come Friday night with the season on the line in the semifinal round of the Marion sub-state, Bebermeyer’s final shot at sending Hillsboro into the final game bounced harmlessly off the front of the rim.
The Sedgwick Cardinals survived a 46-45 scare to end the Trojans’ season at 14-8.
“We gave ourselves a chance at the end to win it,” said a somber Trojan coach Darrel Knoll. “I think a lot of people probably wouldn’t have given us a chance.
“If it wouldn’t have been so noisy in here, I think Dave (Loewen) could have heard me say go to the hole. He kicked out to a wide-open shooter and he had a good look at it, it’s just one of those things. We gave ourselves a chance, I can’t ask anymore than that of the guys. I feel like we left it all on the floor tonight.”
As the Trojans’ season ended, so did the high school careers of Daniel Jost, Andy Klassen, Clay Shewey, Loewen, and Michael Klaassen.
Loewen went out big with a double-double, scoring a game-high 19 points while grabbing a game-best 13 rebounds.
Jost had a huge share of contributions throughout the year, but early foul trouble kept him from effectively getting into the flow of the game Friday, finishing with nine points.
Not too often does a team that hits 34 percent from the floor come out on top, especially considering the Trojans were 46 percent on the night, but that was the case with Sedgwick.
A particularly glaring number for the Trojans though, was their paltry 14 percent shooting in the second half from behind the three-point line.
While it is as hard to win when shooting as low a percentage as Sedgwick, it’s as equally hard to win with 22 turnovers — many of which crippled the Trojans’ chances to extend a lead.
Sedgwick’s quick, swarming defense caused the Trojans to struggle all night, especially in transition.
The Cardinals opened an 11-6 lead after the first quarter, pressuring Hillsboro into 16 first-half turnovers — 11 in the first quarter alone — with a rash of errant passes.
The entire contest was a seesaw battle with six lead-changes and five ties throughout the first half.
Shewey nailed a three with just more than a minute left in the first half to help Hillsboro grab a 22-21 lead at halftime.
In his first game after sustaining a head injury Feb. 24 in a loss at Collegiate, Shewey was not yet his normal form, finishing with six points.
Loewen scored on back-to-back possessions, pushing Hillsboro’s lead as high as five, 26-21, in the opening three minutes of the second half.
The Cardinals’ potent backcourt of Lawson Kingsley and Jake Napper accounted for 28 points with Kingsley knocking down a trio of threes for a team-high 15 points.
Hillsboro never trailed in the third quarter, but Kingsley and Daniel Little kept Sedgwick within three the rest of the quarter.
It was a pivotal Kingsley-three shortly under four minutes, which seemed to deflate the Trojans’ confidence in arguably the biggest turn of the game.
With Hillsboro up 29-25 midway through the third quarter, Bryce Douvier fired an air ball from outside.
Little got the offensive rebound and kicked it out to Kingsley, who drained the three to pull to within 29-28.
Napper flushed a three with 6:59 left in the game, putting the Cardinals back on top, 33-32, and the Trojans never regained the lead.
Sedgwick’s lead grew to as many as four, five times in the fourth quarter, but each time, Loewen answered, keeping the Trojans within two.
Jost made sure he would have something to say about the outcome as well, erasing the Cardinal lead to 44-43 with a three with just less than a half-minute left.
The closing 13 seconds were about as exciting as a game can get with Bebermeyer sinking a pair of free throws to set up Hillsboro for the win pending a stop.
Andy Klassen did that, intercepting the inbounds pass and hitting Loewen, who fired to a wide-open Bebermeyer.
“Dave played a great game inside,” Knoll said. “You talk about going after it, especially the second half and the second part of the first half.
“The first part of the game, he turned it over a few times, but once he figured out how they were playing him, I thought he really got after it. Sedgwick’s a quick team, though. We didn’t shoot the ball well tonight.”
As for the outtake of the entire season?
“I thought we played really hard, we competed really hard,” Knoll said. “We won seven of our last nine. A lot of those were hard-fought wins and I was really proud of how the guys came on the second half of the season.”
Sedgwick won’t be playing in the Class 3A state tournament, either.
The Cardinals’ bid for a ticket ended in a 54-30 blowout by the unbeaten third-ranked Hutchinson-Trinity Celtics.