The clock showed 33 seconds and Casteel the possession. The dramatic conclusion of a 3A State Basketball Playoff game looked promising for the 3 seed. They'd get the final look.
But an errant pass sailed into the scorer’s table and with 5.1 on the clock Gage Hilleshiem hit a running floater to sink the Colts in the round of 16 73-71.
"It was designed to clear space for Austin (Ponsness) to drive the lane and potentially kick it out for an open three if need be. I didn't see who it was off of. I just feel for my boys," stated Coach Brett Huston.
A 43-point outburst from the Colts led by Chris York (11) was slowed down after the break significantly. Wickenburg adjusted and held them to 28 in the final 16 minutes. A lead via 7 of 13 shooting from beyond the arc.
The story of the night was Jonah Reid-Vega & Jackson Tillapaugh. The two Wranglers combined to led the second-half surge from down 43-35. A mirage of a third quarter was a problem for the Colts as Wickenburg took a 57-55 advantage.
Casteel (18-9) allowed a 26-10 run led by the two mentioned and Kade Peterson back to back threes. The 66-58 deficit was erased as Austin Ponsness, Kerwin Danley, Devin Frank, and York. With the long-ball not falling they adjusted and went to work inside. Several sloppy Wrangler turnovers made it appear, for a moment, this would change the post-game conversation. But the three point attempts got ice cold. A questionable few change of possession calls went in favor of the low seed late. That withstanding the Colts had an opportunity to win it but Tate Schow's open look didn't drop.
"It's unfortunate for the second consecutive year to lose in the final minute. These kids are tough and will be back and better from it. The emotion is real because they've built such a unique bond," added Huston.