East Prairie senior Shawn King’s buzzer-beating three-pointer culminated an exciting to watch high school basketball game Thursday night in Bernie as the Eagles defeated Twin Rivers 64-61 to advance to the consolation championship game Friday night at 5:30 against Puxico.

Regardless of the outcome, this game was a homage to hustle, effort and grit. Not long on basketball talent, yet what the Eagles lack in that area, they supplement it with the type of play you would be proud to have your kid be a part of.

*Editor’s note: This is not an AP style story, rather a folksy, fan tale of the game sitting with the father and grandfather of two of the players; both whom I’ve know for a long distance of time. Normally, I’m on the floor – or the sideline – and rarely get to feel the emotion flowing thru the veins of those with participants. I did tonite and enjoyed it immensely.

Senior Devin Cook tied the game tied at 60 thanks to the perfectly ran play that set up him up at the top of the key with a great look and nailed the trey with 1:37 to play.

Tenacious defense forced a five second call and the Eagles were sent to the free throw line with just under a minute to play and made one of the two to take a one-point lead, 61-60. Ep kept up the defensive intensity holding Twin Rivers until a two-shot foul was called sending a Royal to the line with a chance to tie – and – win the game with 13.8 ticks remaining.

Close enough to hear third year Eagle coach Casey Knight mutter out loud that “he wasn’t gonna make both of them.” Well, the he Coach Knight – I just like to type that some time – was talking about was the Royal at the charity stripe with the game on the line.

‘He’ didn’t and Ep’s Logan Staggs snagged the rebound and outlet the ball to senior Dalton Golightly who manuevered up the floor – not at a fast enough pace for those I was sitting nearby mind you – but bringing the ball up the floor with the game tied at 61 and the clock ticking.

At about 3.7 seconds remaining, Golightly faked right and sped to his left and down the lane for an apparent game winner – except (as he said later with a wry smile on his face ) he caught a cramp going up for the game winner; clanking the ball of the bottom of the goal it appeared; or hard off the backboard, frankly I don’t recall it all with the hollering and yelling going on around me…but anyhow, after a tussle for the ball and an Eagle(s) looking like they were falling out of bounds with the ball we all thought we were headed to overtime.

That’s when the ball somehow made its way to the hands of a wide open King far out on the left-wing who let the ball fling from his hands the moment it touched them and just a hair before the buzzer sounded.

Cuz, as the buzzer sounded the ball was still in flight; but you knew – we knew in the stands – and King even said he felt good about the shot when he let it go – that the ball was going in and the Eagles were gonna win. And it did. And they did.

It was exciting – and rewarding – to watch it without a camera in my eye and no one to interact with during the game.

It was a close game most of the way but the Eagles would never lead until late in the contest and could never get a double-possession lead to give their self a break. It seemed they were always playing catch up; which, is essentially what they did.

With Kaylie helping keep the stats the first half, the Eagles trailed 14-6 at the end of the first quarter but – setting the stage for later – snatched their first lead of the half 29-28 right before intermission.

Twin Rivers built a six-point lead midway through the third but the Eagles rallied to cut the deficit to 45-43. As the fourth quarter got underway, Ep and Twin Rivers would trade the lead five times and tie once before King’s game winner sealed the deal for the Eagles.

Game time is 5:30 p.m. Friday night against Puxico for the consolation championship.

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