LIBERAL — With the ball in their hands and time running out in regulation, again in overtime and then once more in double overtime, the Great Bend High School boys’ basketball team was unable to get a shot to fall to put Liberal away on Saturday night.
It wasn’t until senior swingman Dakota Ellis banked in a shot with 54 second remaining in triple overtime that the Panthers took their final lead. With a pair of free throws in the final seconds from Greg Hildabrand, Great Bend won, 53-49.
After the game, Great Bend head coach Chris Battin was still caught up in the emotional rollercoaster.
“I’m having a hard time ever remembering what happened,” Battin said. “We had the ball at the end of the fourth quarter and the end of the first two overtimes but we just didn’t get our shots to fall.”
Tied at 49-all, the Redskins’ Jade Cathey took the ball and opened triple overtime with a basket for the home team, giving Liberal a 49-47 lead.
That advantage was dashed by Jace Bowman, who led the Panthers with 14 points. Bowman dropped in a baseline jumper to even the score.
“Jace stepped up and knocked down some big shots for us down the stretch,” head coach Chris Battin said of Bowman, who scored 11 after halftime. “He was really seeing the ball well, and the rest of the team did a good job finding him and giving him some open looks.”
On the Redskins’ following possession, Cathey, Liberals leading scorer with game-high 18 points, fouled out with a charge against Ellis.
“It was big because it limited their options,” Battin said, “but it was even bigger for Dakota to step up and take the charge. He played well defensively, he positioned himself well and he moved his feet just like in practice.”
It was on the next Great Bend possession that Ellis played the role of hero, giving the Panthers a 51-49 lead.
Liberal took the ball down the court and tried for a 3-pointer with time running out, but a misfire put the ball in Hildebrand’s hands.
The Redskins fouled Hildebrand with .1 seconds on the clock.
Hildebrand hit both free throws, giving him 11 points on the night.