How do you tell Chris Meitzner, who scored 35 points, two shy of the Class 5A tournament record, that it wasn’t enough?
How do you tell Brock Monty, the senior who practically willed back-to-back three-pointers into the basket in the final minute to force overtime, that it wasn’t enough?
How do you tell a team like Kapaun Mount Carmel, whose coach was personally hoping to just make it to .500 before this season started, that what it did Saturday night in the Class 5A championship game against Mill Valley wasn’t enough?
Kapaun, in all of its three-point-slinging, wild-comeback, never-say-die glory, played its last game on Saturday at the Kansas Expocentre. Only this time it was not enough, as Mill Valley prevailed 87-84 in overtime.
“I wanted to make the seniors win their last game so bad,” Meitzner said. “I wanted to do everything possible to make that happen. It’s just brutal to see it go down like that.”
True to Kapaun form, it took an incredible comeback just to make overtime possible.
Even though Mill Valley shredded the Kapaun defense for 71-percent shooting and 44 first-half points, the Crusaders hung around, down by seven at halftime. Largely because Meitzner could hardly miss, scoring 26 points in the first half.
The situation became more dire when Mill Valley took a 74-69 lead with 58 seconds left.
That’s when Monty came alive, making a three-pointer with 41 seconds left to cut into the lead. He then struck again after Mill Valley split a pair of free throws to tie the game with 27 seconds left. A final attempt by Mill Valley was no good.
“(Monty) practices that way and runs every drill that way, even when he’s tired or playing hurt,” Kapaun coach John Cherne said. “He always went as hard as he could and by doing that, by going as hard as he could, he put himself in that situation every day in practice.”
By overcoming the deficit and forcing overtime, Kapaun believed it had one last miraculous finish left in it.
“We all believed 100 percent that we were going to win that game when it went to overtime,” Meitzner said.
But Mill Valley controlled much of the overtime period and when a potential game-tying three-point attempt from Meitzner was slapped out of his hands with seven seconds remaining, the realization that the run was over finally hit the Crusaders.
“Everyone’s hearts just dropped,” Meitzner said.
“They had to earn this,” Cherne added. “They truly had to earn it. We gave them absolutely everything we had. We took every punch they had. We just came up a little short.”
In the process, the will of Meitzner and Monty left both teams in awe of their competitive spirit.
“A lot of respect,” Mill Valley’s Cooper Kaifes said of the duo. “(Meitzner) couldn’t miss in the first half. That’s probably the best shooting performance I’ve ever seen, especially in a state championship game. That’s what is incredible.”
Monty had nearly willed an underdog team to a state championship in his senior season. It was a moment he could have taken to reflect back on how impressive of an accomplishment it was for him.
Instead, the only thing on Monty’s mind was how much he loved his teammates for the season they had just had. Together.
“There are times where I really do try to compete as hard as I can and I try to carry my team as much as I can,” Monty said. “But this was such a team effort. It wasn’t me. It wasn’t Chris. It was a total team effort this entire season.”