|Through an entire regular season Lincoln Pius X and Wahoo had been perfect. Through five tournament games they each had faced the pressure of lose and be done and stayed perfect. It was finally time to play the game. The two teams squared off on Saturday night, March 9. Only one would finish perfect.
It was a scheduled 7:00 p.m. start, but state tournament games tend to run long, especially with the trophy ceremonies following the games. In 1989, the NSAA scheduled the Class A game as the finale of the tournament, preceded by the Class B championship. The 5:00 p.m. contest was the D-1 Championship where Falls City Sacred Heart easily prevailed over Maxwell. While the Pius X community filled up one side of the Sports Center, Wahoo moved into the other side. By game time, the rest of the arena was filling up with those who had no particular affiliation, but wanted to watch this classic matchup. Those who thought theyd come about game time would be disappointed. Class A fans from Millard South and Columbus who didnt get there early would find themselves outside the sportsplex as the fire marshals would have the doors closed. It was a capacity crowd. Those inside were expecting a good showing of basketball and both coaches hoped they could give it to them as Coach Seib and Coach Anderson had both described the previous years contest as a poorly played game. It was expected that these two teams with their perfect records, although they wouldnt play a perfect game, would play at a high level and give the fans something to cheer about. It was about 7:20 when the game tip off finally came.
The first quarter was the evenly fought battle most expected. In the early going it was Ed Easley of Pius X six, Randy Hoffman of Wahoo five The Pius X center got his points off an offensive rebound and assists from the Bolt guards who were penetrating the Wahoo 1-3-1 defense. Wahoo was scoring in the post as they patiently swung the ball from side to side until the opportunity came to lob the ball to Hoffman who was being fronted most of the time. Hoffman would total 8 of Wahoos 10 first quarter points with the other two coming off a rare fast break opportunity from Troy to Jason Glock that gave Wahoo its first lead at 10 - 8. But Piuss Jeff Nichols hit a three as time ran out in the quarter to make it Pius X 11, Wahoo 10.
As the second quarter progressed, Wahoos defense held the Thunderbolts in check and the inside game continued to work for the Warriors. With 5:49 to go in the half, Wahoo held a 17 - 11 lead. Then Pius went on a roll. They shut out the Warriors for the rest of the half and the quarter ended with Pius X leading, 27 - 17. It was by far the lowest first half point production of the year for Wahoo, their next lowest having come in the District final against Gretna (25). Coach Seib later commented, Seventeen points in the first half. We did a fantastic job.
The comments of Coach Mick Anderson in the Wahoo locker room at half time were prophetic. With Pius on a sixteen point run, bashing the Warriors on the boards (21 - 13 at half time) and Wahoo looking out of synch on offense, the coach told his team this will be the greatest comeback in state tournament history. While the assistant coaches had their doubts, they believed Coach Anderson believed. And being down only ten, Coach Anderson probably did believe. There is no report that he repeated those words as Pius extended its lead into the third and fourth quarter. But the players said those words continued to ring in their ears.
The second half began with a Tom Burt jumper for Pius and the lead was 12. Rob Brigham finally stopped the Pius run with a drive to the bucket and the lead was back to 10. But the trends of the first half continued. Pius kept Wahoo out of the transition game, pounded the boards and eventually built a 41 - 25 lead with less than three minutes remaining in the third quarter. If Wahoo was going to make a run, they would need their veteran floor general, Troy Glock, to lead the way. He had only scored two points at half time, but in the third quarter he started driving to the basket, scoring and getting to the freethrow line. The lead was down to 12 when the third period ended, 43 - 31, but it felt like Wahoo was running out of time.
With the first possession of the fourth quarter, Troy Glock drove the lane again and was fouled. The two freethrows cut the lead back to ten. The Wahoo crowd could feel the comeback on its way. Then a six point run by Pius, capped by a Kelly Henrichs jump shot pushed the lead back to 16 and it just didnt seem like Wahoo could climb that mountain again. But they did. Coach Anderson switched them to a man to man defense. With 4:14 to go, Cliff Kreizel scored on a bank shot to cut the lead to nine. Then a traditional 3 point play by Tom Burt gave the Bolts a twelve point cushion. Lee Hunsaker went one for two from the line and then Troy Glock went coast to coast to make the lead ten points. Hunsaker scored two more freethrows -- twelve points. Under two minutes to go -- enter the bomb squad, sophomores Ryan Eddie and Bernie Inbody. Anderson: I told the sophomores we needed points, start firing. At 1:52 to go, Eddie hit his first three pointer -- nine down. The Warriors forced a turnover -- Jason Glock scored in the lane -- seven down, 57 - 50 with 1:22 to go. After a Wahoo timeout, Pius was content to kill the clock -- Eddie fouled Hendricks who converted both freethrows and the Pius lead was back up to nine with 1:06 to go. Jason Glock scored off an offensive rebound, and drew Ed Easleys fifth foul. With the made freethrow, the Warriors were down six, 59 - 53. Fifty-five seconds to go. Wahoo pressured the inbounds pass and Troy Glock forced the turnover. The Warriors then misfired three times in the ensuing possession and finally were forced to foul. With :36 to go, Hendrichs missed the front end of the one-and-one. Troy Glock took the rebound and drove the length of the floor, dishing to brother Jason at the last second and Jason laid it in and immediately called timeout. The Warriors had cut the lead to four points, 59 - 55. But there was only :28 to go and it was still a two possession game.
During the timeout, the Wahoo faithful still believed. They knew that Pius would have to miss some freethrows, but maybe that would happen with this much pressure on them. Then there would be time to perhaps get two more scores, but the clock would keep running -- Wahoo was out of timeouts. Or maybe the Warriors could force another turnover in their full court press -- Pius had had trouble on the inbounds just a couple of possessions ago. There was a chance. But that chance seemed to evaporate on the next play. Jeff Nichols got the inbound pass alone along the sideline -- nobody near enough to foul him. Precious seconds ticked away as he dribbled up the sideline. Then disaster struck -- he passed the ball to Tom Burt down the court on the block, all alone. Burt hesitated. The Glock boys converged, but didnt foul. Burt pivoted twice, then banked home a game clincher -- a six point lead with :19 to go.
That next nineteen seconds would be talked about for years to come. When asked about it later, Troy Glock would confess that the whole thing was a blur. Troy dribbled up to the top of the key and then passed the ball back to Bernie Inbody on the right wing. He launched from 30 feet. As the clock clicked down to 11 seconds, the ball rattled in -- down three. Hendrichs took the ball out and fired a long pass down court to what he thought was an open teammate. But Inbody was back peddling into the passing lane and grabbed the interception -- :05 to go. Without hesitation, Inbody passed the ball ahead to Troy Glock. Glock took one dribble and sent the game-tying shot on its way with :03 to go -- the ball hit the backboard, the front of the rim, and the backboard again. Then it dropped through the net. The buzzer sounded, but it went largely unheard as the roar of the crowd rose to the rafters and spilled out into the concourse at the Devaney Sports Center. The scoreboard showed 61 - 61. The game was going to overtime.
Those that were there called the noise earsplitting. Everybody was looking at each other in disbelief -- Pius fans, Wahoo fans, the nonpartisan fans. Nobody could believe what they had just witnessed. Coach Anderson commented, The place was rocking. Obviously we had the momentum. The overtime period seems anticlimactic -- in hindsight it appears almost inevitable that Wahoo would win the game. But it still took some doing. Both teams failed to score with their first possession, but on their second time with the ball, Troy Glock hit Ryan Eddie in the left corner and Eddie scored the three pointer that stopped any ideas Pius might have had about regaining the momentum. Hunsaker answered with a two-point putback. After both squads committed turnovers and Pius missed two freethrows, Bernie Inbody stepped to the line with :46 to go and knocked in two freethrows. Pius couldnt score and were forced to foul Troy Glock with :14 to go. Glock also made both freethrows. After another Pius miss, Inbody was again fouled. This time the freethrows didnt fall, but with :06 to go it didnt matter. Hendricks cast in a three at the buzzer for Pius, but it was meaningless as the scoreboard showed the final: Wahoo 68, Lincoln Pius X 66.
The Warriors had prevailed. It was an extremely disappointing loss for Pius X. Coach Seib: What can you do? What can you say? The first three quarters, we had all the momentum. Unfortunately we lost it at the wrong time. Troy Glock acknowledged that the Warriors were lucky to get the win: You have to be a little lucky to win. I dont know what it is, but we have it down here. Whether it was luck, faith in one another, hard work, refusal to give up, basketball smarts, a prophetic coach, or whatever, the fact was that Wahoo had what the 1989 Wahoo yearbook called, a perfect end to a perfect season.