Two buzzer-beaters entered Ness City basketball lore on Wednesday night.
The first one kept the Eagles’ hopes alive, and the second one sent them soaring into the Class 2A tournament semifinals.
In a thriller against Lawrence-Bishop Seabury, Ness City’s Easton Seib hit a corner 3-pointer at the end of regulation to send the game into overtime.
With the game tied in the closing moments of the extra session, senior standout John Pfannenstiel drove down the left side and banked in a runner just before time expired, sending the Eagles to a 63-61 win at Gross Memorial Coliseum.
“It was kind of just a blur. Just relying on what I’ve been working on throughout my career,” said Pfannenstiel, whose shot capped off a 24-point night. "Instincts took over and luckily I was able to make that shot.”
The No. 4-seeded Eagles (20-4) will face top-seeded Inman at 8:15 p.m. on Friday with a spot in the title game on the line.
Pfannenstiel’s game-winner answered a game-tying 3-pointer from Seabury’s Zach Bloch with 10.4 seconds left. Ness City called timeout following Bloch’s shot to set up a play.
“We sent a dummy screen just to bait his guy to step up, so that he could drive baseline,” Ness City coach Brandt Rogers said. “Fortunately for us, we guessed right and it worked.”
But maybe the most critical shot of the night came from Seib, a junior guard.
The Eagles were on the brink of defeat after Bloch hit two free throws with 8.7 seconds left to push the Seahawks' lead to three.
Pfannenstiel brought the ball down the court and passed it to Angel Guzman, who found Seib in the corner for the unguarded 3.
“The guys gave it to me in the corner and I had an open shot, so I took it,” Seib said. “It looked good, and it just happened to go in.”
“For him to make that shot was just incredible,” Pfannenstiel said. “That was a huge shot, not only for our team, but for our whole community of Ness City. I’m really proud of him and I know the whole town is going to be proud of him.”
The Eagles knew Seib would be left open when the Seahawks’ double-teamed Pfannenstiel, Rogers said.
“We knew they were going to try to double John, and if John was willing to make that pass, then it had to be Easton’s shot because he was going to draw the double from Easton,” Rogers said. “It had to be Easton, and he did it. He did his job.”
The Seahawks nearly had the game locked up after leading by four with 18 seconds left, but Pfannenstiel was fouled taking a 3-pointer with 11.9 seconds left. He made all three free throws to bring the Eagles within one before the final sequence resulted in Seib’s 3, sending the Ness City fans into a frenzy.
“The support from the community instills a new belief you don’t think you have in yourself,” Rogers said. “They were talking in the locker room, they could just not believe they had this many people here.”
The teams traded big buckets from start to finish, neither gaining separation. Ness City led 30-28 at halftime and Seabury took a 41-37 lead into the fourth.
“You want to keep as level-headed as possible,” Pfannenstiel said. “We knew this was for the community. These guys were the ones that eliminated us two years ago at state so we had a little bit of a chip on our shoulder."
“It’s crazy,” Seib said. “You just got to keep your head up and keep going.”
Senior Andres Rios scored 24 points on 10-of-20 shooting to share team-high honors with Pfannenstiel. He also added eight rebounds.
“Man, that kid is a gamer,” Rogers said of Rios. “He works his tail off day in, day out. He came out and took advantage of the situations he needed to and he was an animal on the glass.”
Bloch put on a show for the Seahawks (16-5), scoring 29 points and going 5 of 7 from 3-point range while also pulling down 11 rebounds.
“He’s a great player and he’s only a sophomore,” Pfannenstiel said. “He’s going to have great things ahead of him.”
Inman advanced to the semis with a 73-56 win over Plainville.
”Inman’s tough,” Rogers said. “(Mason) Thiessen’s a great player. There’s a reason he’s signed with Emporia State. The (Payton) Froese kid is a great player too. They have great players across the board. We’re going to have to step up and play a really good defensive game to be able to stop them.”