Having to make a point of treating these free throws as normal and low pressure meant that they were, in fact, the exact opposite.
Bryce Weidemann’s explanation made sense in the aftermath, though. With a hostile road crowd desperately screaming for him to miss, Weidemann calmly swished two free throws with four seconds to go, giving Maize South a 69-68 win over Bishop Carroll in a Class 5A sub-state semifinal.
“The student section was so loud for Bishop Carroll, I couldn’t really think,” said Weidemann, a sophomore. “My dad has always told me to keep my eyes on the rim and don’t fall back, so I tried to listen to him.”
Weidemann’s shots capped an improbably hectic final two minutes. Maize South led 60-48 with 2:20 to go before a furious Carroll rally allowed the Golden Eagles to take a 68-67 lead with 12 seconds remaining.
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“It was like the world’s best roller coaster,” Carroll coach Lonnie Lollar said. “But basketball shouldn’t be like a roller coaster.”
Carroll scored 35 points in the fourth quarter, in which it trailed by as many as 15. A complete rally still looked unlikely when Maize South had the ball and a six-point lead with under a minute to play.
Carroll scored five straight to cut Maize South’s lead to 63-62 before the Mavericks’ Payten Ricks, who scored 41 points, made a pair of free throws. A Zack Goodman three-pointer, his only basket, tied it 65-65, but Ricks put Maize South back ahead by driving full-court for a layup.
Patrick Carney gave Carroll a 68-67 lead with a three-pointer with 12 seconds to go, and Maize South turned over the inbound pass. Carroll’s Max Iseman missed two free throws with five seconds remaining, and Weidemann was fouled grabbing the rebound.
“There’s always a chance until there are zeroes on the scoreboard,” Weidemann said. “Great game.”
Maize South had to stage a similar comeback after Carroll took a 12-point lead in the first quarter and led 18-8 before the second. That’s when Ricks took over, scoring 14 points in the second quarter to give the Mavericks a 27-25 halftime lead.
Ricks was nearly as good in the third, scoring 11 points, but he raised his level of distribution. With Ricks as the catalyst, his teammates made four shots in the final 2:38 of the quarter to cap a 13-2 run that put Maize South ahead 48-33.
“We didn’t come out ready to play,” said Ricks, a senior. “Then in a timeout, Coach (Kip Schultz) got us fired up, and after that we got into gear. We realized this could be our last game and we didn’t want to go out like that.”
Neither did Carroll. The Eagles made 12 of 19 shots, including five three-pointers, in the fourth quarter. Iseman and Eric Scharping combined for 24 fourth-quarter points and Carney made two three-pointers in the final 55 seconds.
Those plays created a madhouse, but Weidemann found the calm.
“Shout out to our young man, Bryce,” Ricks said. “He’s very good in those situations, and he’s probably best out of our young players at finishing out like that. So props to him.”
Maize South: Davis 1, Knoblauch 2, Maxson 4, Ricks 41, Jennings 5, Richardson 8, Veenis 2, Weidemann 6.
Carroll: Iseman 16, Carney 17, Lopez 2, Allen 2, Kennedy 2, Goodman 3, Biby 3, Scharping 23.