The Daily Inter Lake
It was only an obligatory heave, the type of prayer players offer just before nearly every buzzer because once in a few hundred attempts, if they’re lucky, it will fall.
The shot’s odds — and the shot itself, for that matter — were so long, in fact, that even the best shooter in the state initially dismissed it, knowing there was a miniscule chance it would do anything beside hurt his 50.5 3-point field goal percentage.
“I wasn’t gonna shoot it,” Missoula Sentinel’s Sam Beighle said.
But Beighle did shoot it, mostly for the heck of it, and watched along with everyone else in the Glacier High School gym as the ball left his right hand, traveled 80-some-odd feet along the court and encountered nothing but nylon on its flight.
“I saw the clock and was like, ‘Whatever,’” Beighle said. “I just threw it.
“It kind of curved, and then it went in. The gym was silent, and then it erupted. I heard nobody got it on video, so I’m a little bummed.”
Beighle’s improbable make to end the third quarter brought even the most ardent Glacier faithful to their feet in appreciation of what they’d just witnessed, but it turned out to be one of the shots that doomed the Wolfpack in the end.
Kody Jarvis and Brec Rademacher led a furious third-quarter run, but Beighle’s 34 points, including the miraculous full-court shot, were enough to send Glacier to a 65-62 Western AA conference boys basketball loss on Tuesday night.
The second-ranked Spartans clinched the Western AA title with the win.
Sentinel, which controlled the first half and grew its lead as large as 10, saw that advantage quickly evaporate in an explosive third quarter for the Wolfpack.
Jarvis poured in 13 of his team-high 26 points for Glacier in the third, and Rademacher contributed eight of his 19.
“Kody got rolling a little bit,” Glacier head coach Mark Harkins said.
“That opened up our perimeter game. I was really pleased with how they responded in the second half to us challenging them to get a little more aggressive offensively.”
“My teammates knew I was on fire, so they know to look for me,” said Rademacher, who drained two of his five 3-pointers in the third, “I give them a lot of credit. I was just on tonight.”
Glacier totaled 28 points in the period, enough to regain the lead. It appeared primed to carry it into the fourth quarter, but Beighle’s once-in-a-career make from the opposite end of the gym instead gave Sentinel a one-point advantage entering the final eight minutes.
“It was a hell of a shot,” Rademacher said.
“You can’t do anything but kind of smile and give him credit.”
Sentinel maintained a narrow margin throughout most of the fourth quarter, though Glacier briefly took a 59-58 lead on a Rademacher 3-pointer.
But after Gaige DeShazer, who scored 11 for Sentinel, hit a 3 of his own to retake the lead, Beighle, the state’s leading scorer, calmly stepped to the line and knocked down four free throws down the stretch to ice the game. He was 10 for 10 on the night from the charity stripe.
Caden Harkins offered a contested shot from the top of the key just before the buzzer on Glacier’s final possession, but it was off the mark.
Glacier must turn around quickly and prepare for a crosstown rematch on Thursday at 8 p.m., when it will attempt to exact revenge on Flathead.
“When we played them (in Missoula), (Beighle) killed us with penetration,” coach Harkins said. “He shot the ball real well tonight. He’s a hell of a player.
“We gave him some open ones in the first half that we kind of addressed at halftime, but I thought in the second half, he earned his shots. Good players can hit shots like that, and he’s a good player.”
Sentinel 15 12 22 16 — 65
Glacier 9 11 28 14 — 62
MISSOULA SENTINEL: Sam Beighle 9 10-10 34, Gaige DeShazer 4 0-0 11, Brayden Danzinger 1 0-0 3, Elias DeWaters 0 1-2 1, Brandon Morley 1 0-0 2, Alex Germer 1 0-0 2, Nick Germer 0 1-2 1, Scott Malikie 1 0-0 2, Trey Kolb 4 1-2 9.
GLACIER: Caden Harkins 1 0-2 2, Collin Kazmier 2 1-3 5, Brec Rademacher 7 0-0 19, Kody Jarvis 9 5-7 26, Drew Engellant 1 2-4 4, Nick Whitman 1 2-2 4, AJ Grande 1 0-0 2.