Host Lady Hornets let 15-points lead in fourth quarter evaporate, but then battled 3-time conqueror even in overtime until McKauley Prothero made dramatic drive for winning layup with two seconds left. Hamilton boys fell to No. 1 seed Maryville by 10 in their Class 3 DIstrict 16 title tilt
HAMILTON, Mo. — Snaring a long rebound of a Trenton shot which could have put her team behind with seven seconds left, Hamilton Lady Hornets senior McKauley Prothero instead drove to the other end of the court with two defenders trying to catch her or cut her off and, winning that race, sank a layup with two seconds on the clock to give the Lady Hornets a 68-66 overtime triumph Saturday night in a pulsating Class 3 District 16 Tournament championship game.
Hamilton (18-7) will begin state tournament action Wednesday at Excelsior Springs against District 15 champion Higginsville (Lafayette County), a game which seems definitely winnable.
Having let a 15-points lead with six minutes remaining get away in the fourth quarter on its home floor, largely with inaccurate free-throw shooting, Hamilton gathered its wits well enough to stagger into overtime, tied at 59-all.
In OT, Trenton took its first lead in a long time about a half-minute in on Ainsley Tolson’s deuce, her 29th and 30th points of the game. However, Hamilton sophomore star Nora Ford countered 30 seconds later with a right-side triple, making it 63-61.
That would be the Lady Hornets’ last basket until M. Prothero’s game-winner just ahead of the buzzer, before which THS junior star Tolson had tied the game one more time at 66 with a basket that gave her 33 points.
After Hamilton missed two free throws with 14 seconds left, Trenton (26-2) rebounded and took its last timeout, using the time to surprise no one and put the ball in Tolson’s hands for the potential game-winner.
Penetrating the paint just inside the foul line, her jumper looked for all the world like it would be dead on, but instead caught the inside of the back iron and bounced out to M. Prothero, just wide of the left elbow of the Trenton lane.
Gaining possession with seven seconds to go, although she likely didn’t know the exact time left, she wheeled quickly and headed up her right-hand side of the court with Tolson trying to chase her down and Lexi Whitaker angling over from her left, hoping to cut off her path to the rim.
M. Prothero won both races, barely beating Whitaker, but doing so enough to be able to protect her right, shooting hand with her body and kiss the ball perfectly off the glass and through the net with 2. 3 seconds left.
With no timeout available to call to stop the clock, Trenton could only quickly flip the ball in to Tolson, but her baseball-throw-type desperation fling just ahead of the final horn was far short.
Hamilton – three times a victim of Trenton’s during the regular season, all by double-digits margins and twice in tournament title games, including its own – had laughed last and best and was going to state. Trenton, after a first-ever trip to the state semifinals and finals a year ago and with high hopes of repeating that trip, instead was homeward bound.
The last-second loss was an especially-bitter pill to swallow for the Lady Bulldogs, considering what they’d overcome in the last six minutes of regulation time.
Behind 51-36 after M. Prothero’s left-side driving shot, they ignited off an odd sequence.
A THS 3-point shot attempt from the left wing missed, but Hamilton couldn’t catch up with the long rebound, instead fouling as Trenton grabbed it on the bounce. The Lady Bulldogs hit the first free throw, but missed the second, only to collect its carom, as well. After a bit of play, Hamilton again fouled and this time the top seed converted both tries, getting three points the hard way out of a possession which could have been scoreless.
Getting those points allowed desperate Trenton to deploy its full-court press, a move which led to two quick turnovers, a Lady Bulldogs layup and then two treys. Just like that, Trenton was within 54-47 with still over four minutes to go.
As Hamilton continued to be off-target at the foul line, going four of 11 in the fourth quarter, the Lady Bulldogs kept cutting into the deficit, getting within one at 56-55 with still 1:20 to go in regulation time.
Finally, with 22 seconds remaining, a foul put Trenton at the line in a 2-point game and it drained both tries to erase the last vestiges of Hamilton’s once-daunting lead.
Each side had a possession in the last 22 seconds, but failed to score, extending the excitement and setting the stage for M. Prothero’s final dramatics.
Statistically, while Tolson’s 33 tallies – including all 15 of her team’s in the second quarter – led all scorers, hers was Trenton’s only twin-digits total.
Conversely, Hamilton had 23 from Ford, but also 16 from Graycen Prothero – 10 in the second quarter and 12 via 3-pointers – and 14 from M. Prothero.
After the girls’ thriller, Maryville’s top-seeded boys had to be wary of the host Hornets riding the emotional wave their female counterparts had created in front of the home crowd.
Duly warned, Maryville moved out to a 16-10 lead after one quarter and expanded it to 34-25 at halftime.
After Hamilton used a pair of Cale Whitt 3-pointers and his driving deuce to scramble to within five at 42-37 with 2-1/2 minutes left in the third period, the Spoofhounds responded and again had a 9-points lead, 48-39, going to the last stanza.
Just before the fourth quarter reached its mid-point, Hamilton star LaTroy Harper weaved down the lane past several defenders to angle a tough shot around a final foe and off the window to get the Hornets as close as they’d been since the first period at 50-46 with 4-1/2 minutes remaining.
Well-tested Maryville (20-4), which had whipped Hamilton by 18 at Hamilton in December, didn’t panic at all, though, efficiently using ball movement to have a few extended possessions that drained time, while also continuing to look to score whenever it could.
As a result, it never allowed Hamilton to get within one possession and eventually hit 6-straight free throws in the last minute to close out its 62-52 championship win, its third district crown in a row.
Statistically, led by sophomore Tate Oglesby’s 17 points, MHS had three double-figures scorers and three more with either six or eight tallies. Jakob Woods added 12 and Eli Dowis 11.
Hamilton (16-8) received a game-best 23 points from Harper in his final prep game and 11 from Whitt.