It seemed like an awfully long 3.8 seconds before Appleton East's Caleb Zeegers shot went into the basket off teammate Johnny Coenen's airball, and it will be an even longer off-season for the Germantown boys basketball team to digest the moment as the Warhawks' season came to an end with a stunning 54-52 WIAA Super-sectional loss in Oshkosh on Tuesday night.
"It seemed like a long time - that ball was in the air a long time," said a discouraged Germantown coach Steve Showalter. "It seemed that when the initial shot went up that the horn should have been blowing. But I teach my kids to play to the whistle, to the horn sounds."
With the win, the No. 1-ranked Patriots (26-0) advance to a WIAA Division 1 state semifinal in Madison on Friday night while Germantown's record-breaking season comes to an end at 24-2.
The loss spoiled an epic comeback by the Warhawks, as they went down 12 in the first half, but rallied to tie the score with 10 seconds remaining in regulation on guard Josh Mongan's 3-pointer from the wing.
Mongan, who led all Germantown scorers' with 15 points, then gave the Warhawks their first lead since 5-2 with the first basket of the overtime. After the Patriots' Sam Mader (game-high 23 points) hit a 3-pointer to give East the lead back, Germantown center Dan Studer hit an offensive rebound to make it 52-51 Warhawks with 1:23 remaining.
East then ran clock, calling three timeouts in the process. Finally with 6.8 seconds to go, the Patriots' Trent Schmidt was fouled out on the wing. He made the first free throw to tie the score and then missed the second.
That's when things got weird. Germantown's Malcolm Bowers appeared to come down with the rebound along the sideline. Showalter thought he had control and called timeout. In the meantime, Bowers and an East defender hit the deck and the ball went out of bounds.
A meeting ensued at the scorer's table and the officials reversed the call, saying that Bowers did not have control before the time-out was called so the ruling was a tie-ball with possession going to the Patriots on alternate possession with 3.8 to go.
"I certainly had a different view of the play," said Showalter. "My guy seemed to have the ball, so that's why I called the time-out. I even spent a minute drawing up a play before they pulled me (out of my huddle) by my shirt to tell me that it was not my ball.
"... But as I keep telling my guys you have to keep doing the little things because you never know which play is going to decide it. And there were about six, seven, eight, nine plays before that (that we could have controlled) that got us to this point."
That set up the sequence of events that the Germantown share of the 6,000-plus people in attendance at the Kolf Center in Oshkosh will have a hard time believing for a long time to come.
Mongan, who was helped out by Luke Fischer and Zak Showalter with 10 points apiece, was diplomatic about the situation.
"I thought I bottled him (Coenen) up for a good second or two, and it seemed like the shot (the first one) went off with about 1.2 seconds left," Mongan said. "And then I saw 31 (Zeegers) grab the ball and do a doubletake. I don't know if he got it off or not.
"But we can't use that as an excuse. It is what it is. We didn't box out on the rebound and we have to live with that."
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