I know I'm a hoops junkie, so I might be sounding like a bit of a geek here, but did anyone else watch that Division II championship on CBS? Holy cow -- that is, without a doubt, one of the best finishes to a basketball game I have ever seen.
Defending Division II champ Winona State had won 57 straight games, and had a seven-point lead over Barton -- winners of 20 straight -- with 30 seconds to go. The Warriors had built lead after lead, only to watch Barton come back again and again. Only this time, it looked like Barton had run out of gas, repeatedly missing shots in the last four minutes.
Check out this sequence of events, all in the last 30 seconds:
- Barton's best player, Anthony Atkinson, gets a quick layup to cut the deficit to five.
- Winona's free throw shooter misses his free throw, Barton rebounds.
- Atkinson hits a little floater in the lane to cut the lead to three.
- Barton steals the inbounds pass and feeds the ball to Atkinson.
- Atkinson hits an acrobatic layup and is fouled, sending him to the free throw line with a chance to tie.
- Atkinson -- who, by the way, hit a free throw with 1.5 seconds left to win the semifinal game -- misses the game-tying free throw. Winona State rebounds.
- The Winona State player makes one of two shots.
- Atkinson scores again, with about 10 seconds left, to tie the game.
- Winona State inbounds quickly, trying to push the ball without using a timeout. Only, Barton steals the ball!
- The Barton player feeds it to -- guess who? -- Atkinson, who streaks to the basket and lays it in as time expires to win the game. I kid you not: The guy released the ball with 0.1 seconds left on the clock!
The best part? No time outs in that last flurry of action. Just letting the kids play. How cool.