Shane Ganz will admit that when the shot left his hand he didn’t give it much chance to go in.
So you could imagine Ganz’s surprise when the senior guard’s 3-point attempt from the right wing banked into the basket at the final buzzer to give the Rockets a 54-52 win over Columbia on Friday.
“To be honest, I thought it was a brick … I was stoked when it went in,” he said. “We wanted Noah (Frederking) to get a drive on that final shot. My guy left me for a triple team on Noah and I got lucky, that’s it.”
Okawville — ranked second in the Class 1A State Poll and second in the News-Democrat’s Small School Poll — improved to 19-3 with the win, which was coach Jon Kraus’ 300th career victory.
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“It just means you’ve been coaching a while,” said Kraus, who is in his 17th season as coach of the Rockets. “A lot of credit goes to our kids, obviously they’ve won every game … it’s been a lot of fun.”
Okawville led throughout the game until the Eagles’ Jonathan Holmes hit a pair of free throws with 3:22 left to play to put Columbia ahead 50-49.
The Eagles lead was 52-51 following Korbin Farmer’s bucket with 1:05 remaining in the contest. The Rockets turned the ball over and then sent Ryan Gudeman to the free throw line with nine seconds to go. Gudeman missed the charity toss and Frederking got the rebound and raced across half court where Okawville called timeout with five seconds left.
Frederking got the inbounds pass, but was bottled up by the Eagles. He kicked the ball to an open Ganz, who banked home the winner.
“We got the ball in Noah’s hands, but you have to give Columbia credit. They knew where the ball was going and they got it stopped,” Kraus said. “Noah did a good job of not forcing a shot and getting the ball to Shane.”
That’s high school basketball, Kraus said.
“It’s just one of those things that happen,” Kraus added, almost apologetically. “Sometimes you’re on this end of it and sometimes you’re on the other end.”
Columbia coach Mark Sandstrom was on the other end, whose team fell to 14-5 despite a gritty effort.
“That’s the second time in the last four games that we’ve gotten beat by a 22-footer at the buzzer,” the coach said, referring to his team’s recent loss to Belleville East. “That’s a disappointing ending, but I’m pretty happy with my kids because this is a tough place to play and they are a very well-coached team.
“We did everything we could do and Ganz hit a tough shot,” added Sandstrom. “Now we’ve got to get on the bus and go home.”
Frederking led all scorers with 20 points, as Ganz added 19 points and Brad Furhop 10.
Ganz has stepped up offensively as of late for the Rockets, as he scored 23 in a win over Gibault last weekend.
“At times in the past, Shane has kind of floated around and just settled for that 3-point shot,” Kraus said. “But he has really good moves when he gets into the lane and he got to the bucket early tonight.”
Korbin Farmer led three players in double figures for Columbia with 17 points. Jonathan Holmes finished with 14 points as Jordan Holmes added 10.
“That’s a big win,” said Ganz. “They are a really good 3A school and they were killing us on the glass early. But we battled and our guys fought and we got it at the end.”