Tyler Boyer thought he had a couple seconds to spare.
So in reality, the Columbus East sophomore was glad his final shot in Tuesday night’s first-round sectional game was gone before the buzzer.
Boyer’s reverse layup as time expired in overtime gave the Olympians a 59-58 win against Bloomington North. The win sends East to Friday’s Columbus North Sectional semifinals against Class 4A No. 5 Bloomington South.
"I knew there was not a lot of time left, but I didn’t know until I shot, and the buzzer went off right when it went in," Boyer said. "I thought we had a couple more seconds, so I’m glad I shot it when I did."
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The Cougars (13-8) took a 58-57 lead on a free throw by Jeremiah Blair with 8.8 seconds left in overtime. But Blair missed the second shot, and Matt Frost grabbed the rebound and handed the ball to Lakeevan Whedon.
Whedon pushed the ball up the floor until he was met with a double-team at the free-throw line. Whedon then passed to a cutting Boyer underneath the basket, and Boyer laid it in, sending the Olympian students into court-storming mode.
"It honestly was just instinct," Boyer said. "I saw Lakeevan had the ball and was driving, and my guy went to double-team Lakeevan, so I just found an open spot on the floor, and he found me under the basket. This is for sure the most exciting win I’ve had in my career."
That East (12-10) was even in overtime was an improbable scenario a while earlier. The Olympians trailed 32-19 with 5 1/2 minutes left in the third quarter.
A 7-0 run brought East within 32-26, and the Olympians trailed 36-30 after three quarters. They trailed 44-37 with just over five minutes left in the game before a 6-0 run cut it to 44-43 with 3:40 remaining.
East tied the game at 52-52 on a layup by Drew Johnson with 29 seconds left in regulation, and Bloomington North missed a 3-pointer in the closing seconds, forcing overtime.
"We always say the score is 0-0 at all times, so we just had to come out and chip away at the lead play by play, and we had to make sure we got defensive stops to give ourselves a chance to come back," Boyer said.
The Cougars struck first in the overtime with a three-point play by Isaac Vencel. The Olympians then got a free throw from Johnson and a basket by Boyer to tie the game, then took their first lead of the night at 57-55 on a one-and-one from Frost with 1:59 remaining.
Frost then came up with a huge blocked shot and rebound at the other end. Whedon missed the front end of a one-and-one, and Bloomington North tied in on a pair of free throws by Vencel with 29 seconds left.
Johnson missed a driving layup, and East fouled on the rebound, sending Blair to the free-throw line and setting up the wild final seconds.
"I love these guys," East coach Brent Chitty said. "They play hard, they don’t quit and they practice hard."
Boyer finished with 20 points to lead the Olympians, while Frost added 15. Johnson, who is battling the flu, scored 11.
East, which was outrebounded 35-18 by the Cougars, trailed by as many as 14 at 26-12 with 3:25 left in the first half.
"The first half, we weren’t very good," Chitty said. "We couldn’t throw the thing in the ocean. We couldn’t hit free throws, we couldn’t hit shots, we didn’t defend real well and we didn’t block out worth a lick. So we just had to change. We knew we can do those things, and I thought our kids the second half did it. They battled, and they got a chance in overtime."