And Dustin McConnell had the final answer.
Dobyns-Bennett’s senior guard delivered his team’s 11th 3-pointer, a smooth swish with two seconds left, and then nearly made a game-tying mistake on the other end as the Indians held off rival Science Hill 73-70 on Monday afternoon at Viking Hall.
The Indians (11-2) dealt the Hilltoppers (12-4) their third straight loss — and a rare 0-2 exit from the 26th annual tournament.
D-B will take on Louisville (Ky.) Male today at 10:30 a.m.
With the score tied at 70 and 30 seconds left, the Indians held the ball for the final shot. Todd Halvorsen came off a screen and penetrated inside the arc before kicking out to McConnell in the corner.
The pass was crisp and McConnell made the net dance.
“It was a great pass, and it was just catch and shoot,” said McConnell, who had 23 points — 17 in the second half — and went 4-of-7 from 3-point land.
D-B coach Charlie Morgan said he got what he wanted from that final possession.
“I told them we had to get a ball screen and pass for an open look,” Morgan said. “If nothing is open, look to take it to the basket.”
“Dustin struggled the other night, but he’s getting the mentality that he’s going to make that next shot.”
The clock showed 1.1 remaining, but the officials ordered a change to two seconds. Science Hill then used Isaac Kinley’s quarterback skills, going for the long inbounds pass.
But Kinley’s toss was too long and was going out of bounds on the other end. McConnell complicated matters, however, by jumping and catching the ball. Then he really made things interesting by throwing it back over his head to Science Hill’s Chris Smith, who received it in perfect position for a 3-point attempt but couldn’t get the shot to go down.
“I just had a brain (cramp),” McConnell said with a laugh. “I was just hoping to throw it high enough that the clock would run out. Then I was just hoping he didn’t make that shot.”
D-B shot 58 percent from behind the arc (11-of-19).
Ashlon Adams, a transfer from Science Hill, finished with a career-high 29 points on 10-of-16 shooting from the field, including 5-of-6 from 3-point land.
“I tried to look at it as just another game,” Adams said. “But it was special because a lot of friends I grew up with are on that team. So that made it more than any usual game.”
Josh Odem had 26 points, seven rebounds, three steals and three blocks for Science Hill. Larry Smith had 18 points and hauled in 12 rebounds.
Kinley’s bull’s-eye trey with 30 seconds remaining tied the score at 70 to set the stage for McConnell.
D-B center Jordan Edwards spent a lot of time in foul trouble, totaling only four points and six rebounds.