Game-winning shot clinches undefeated season for Maize South girls
Macy McCormack passed to Katie Wagner and screamed for her to get to the basket.
Wagner lowered her shoulder, tossed up a shot from about five feet in front of the basket that went off the glass and in. The shot gave Maize South a 38-36 win over Goddard, an outright AVCTL II girls basketball title and a senior night sendoff Lauren Johnson said she would never forget.
“I’m honestly speechless,” she said. “It’s such an indescribable feeling. All of these girls have put countless hours in. ... I had 100 percent faith in (Wagner). I know when she goes to the cup, she’s strong enough and has the confidence to come through for us.
“I’ve never enjoyed basketball the way I have this season.”
Wagner said the final play didn’t go according to plan. When it broke down, she was the one the Mavericks turned to. Goddard had a shot with 1.7 seconds left as sophomore Brooke Sullivan hit junior Kade Hackerott on the run off an inbound pass. Hackerott’s shot from half-court hit the rim and rattled off.
Wagner said the atmosphere was “electric.”
“I heard the student section calling out, ‘Four, three, two,’ and I was just going,” she said.
Goddard led throughout until early in the fourth quarter. The Lions’ defense contained one of Kansas’ top offenses to 23 points through 24 minutes. Hackerott led the way for Goddard with 17 points.
But in the fourth quarter, Maize South found its feet. With coach Ben Hamilton out with the flu watching from home, assistant Tessa Konen took the reigns. She said her group pulled through when it mattered.
“When she hit the game-winner, I think we all just felt relief,” she said. “This team, that’s why we’re special. We think every single game is just as important as the next one. That’s the way we always play. That’s why we are where we are.”
Thursday’s game was between the No. 1 and 2 seeds in Class 5A West. It had no impact on sub-state standings as brackets were filled Wednesday morning. But as Wagner hit the last-second winner, she fist pumped and doubled over, letting out a scream.
It wasn’t meaningless, she said.
“I told (the seniors) before the game, ‘Guys, I’m playing this one for you,’ ” Wagner said. “I knew it would mean a lot to me next year, so I just wanted them to go out on a high note.”
Wagner and Johnson led the Mavericks with 14 points each. McCormack and senior Alexis Snodgrass each had five, and that was it. With the win, Maize South captured its first league title in school history and first undefeated season.
Although it wasn’t pretty, McCormack said that’s not how the game will be remembered.
“I’m kind of a mix of sad and happy,” Snodgrass said. “I don’t even really know what to think. I’m kind of speechless about it, but it’s pretty amazing.”