DENVER — With bodies diving and flopping to the ground around him, Dax Snooks stayed just level enough in the final moments to propel Bayfield into its first state title game in 48 years.
Hayden Farmer came up with a loose ball amidst a mad scramble on the floor as the clock dwindled down. He threw it forward to Turner Kennedy, who found Snooks under the basket for the game-winning layup with 1.2 seconds remaining as the seven-seeded Wolverines beat No. 6 Faith Christian 45-42 in the Class 3A boys basketball semifinals on Friday night.
Snooks was still trying to piece everything together afterward. The senior guard said he heard that Kennedy was looking to dish the ball to Keyon Prior, but Prior got tangled up and hit the floor. He was thankful he was spotted shortly after that.
“He found me,” Snooks smirked.
The chaos didn’t stop there.
The Eagles didn't get a chance at a final shot in regulation because officials assessed a technical foul, citing the coaches for calling a timeout they didn’t have. Farmer salted the game away, hitting 1 of 2 from the line before throwing the ensuing inbounds securely to Ryan Phelps.
Afterward, Faith Christian coach Andrew Hasz said the technical was a result of miscommunication.
“That was a little weird,” he said. “The clock had been stopped to try to figure out the time. The official then came to our bench and told us to get on the floor, that there was no timeout and we had to keep playing.
“We assumed that there then wasn’t a timeout called. I guess the table charged us a timeout, so we didn’t have a timeout. So then when we called a timeout it was a technical.”
Phelps led Bayfield with 14 points, Snooks had 11 and Prior 10.
Snooks scored a quick nine points following halftime, leading the Wolverines (18-7) on a 19-4 run to open the third quarter. He capped the spurt with a 3, followed by a breakaway layup off a steal to put Bayfield up 37-26 with 1:19 left in the quarter.
Benjamin Hawkins finished with 15 points for Faith Christian (19-7), including 13 straight points for his team to carry the Eagles back from an 11-point deficit.
Later, after Jonah Gardner tied the game and a defensive stop, Faith Christian tried to hold for one possession in the final 1:30.
Hayden’s steal and Snooks’ winner, however, put a wrench in things.
“Excellent job on our guys’ behalf of not getting the foul and getting the steal,” Bayfield coach Jeff Lehnus said.
The Wolverines are headed to their third state finals game and first since 1970, per the coach. They will have a chance to win their first title in program history when they face No. 12 Lutheran on Saturday.
(12) Lutheran 39, (1) Sterling 37
— Brent W. New (@BrentWNew) March 10, 2018
Peter Gibas hit from just inside the perimeter with 2.8 seconds remaining as Lutheran punched its ticket to the finals.
Following a foul on the Lions (20-6), Sterling (25-1) inbounded to Carter Keil for the final shot of regulation. His attempt hit the side of the backboard, officially ending the Tigers’ perfect season.
Gibas and Tyler Eldred each had nine points for Sterling, which was down 7-2 in the first quarter before going back and forth with the Tigers the rest of the way. Gibas tied the game at 37-37 with 2:20 remaining and Lutheran held its final possession for more than 90 seconds.
Bodie Hume led Sterling with 19 points. The Tigers, who beat Faith Christian 48-47 for the title last season, will not repeat.
The 3A boys’ title game will begin at 6 p.m. at Hamilton Gym. The girls’ game will precede it at 4 p.m.