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Heights boys trip Kapaun in wild finish

Published Feb. 22 at 11:09 p.m. | Last updated Feb. 22 at 11:11 p.m.

Chris Reed has been a part of three state championship basketball teams during his time at Heights.

He’s played with a McDonald’s All-American. He’s played on the biggest stage that Kansas high school basketball offers. But he says nothing can top Friday night.

On Reed’s senior night at Heights, the Falcons produced a miracle – erasing a four-point deficit with nine seconds left to win in regulation – to pull out a 47-46 victory over Kapaun Mount Carmel.

Kapaun was in-bounding under its own goal with four seconds left and Toby Baxter’s pass was tipped by Chase Arnold and recovered by Heights. Semaj Hervey looked like he could have tied the game with a layup, but pulled the ball out and passed to Chris Lowe open at the top of the arc.

Lowe released the three-pointer a tenth of a second before the buzzer and erupted the Heights gymnasium as it barely moved the net, swishing through for his only three points of the game.

“Nobody can take that away from us,” Reed said. “We’ve had our own little bumps in the road this season, but this feels better than a state title right now.”

While Kapaun tried to process what had just happened, it watched Heights stormed the court to mob Lowe. It watched the Falcons carry him off the court. It watched Heights coach Joe Auer lose himself in the moment and celebrate wildly in front of Heights’ fans.

“I told them to remember that and use it as motivation,” Kapaun coach John Cherne said. “At this time of the year, you need a little bit of Lady Luck and tonight Lady Luck shined on them.”

After an up-and-down season, Auer explained the pent-up energy the Falcons showed after the win.

“If you don’t lose yourself in that moment, you shouldn’t be in this business,” Auer said. “You’re just so happy for these kids. This is a special, special experience.”

Heights was actually in control of the game for the better part of three quarters, taking a 20-17 lead into halftime, but Kapaun made its comeback at the free-throw line, making 9 of 12 free throws in the fourth quarter.

Damien Akao made two free throws to push Kapaun’s lead to 46-42 and appeared to seal the victory.

But Reed raced down the court and went straight in for a layup to cut the deficit back to two before Auer called a timeout with four seconds left.

“As long as there are ticks left on the clock, the other team can still win,” Cherne said.

Toby Baxter attempted a baseball pass down the court, but Heights’ Chase Arnold read his eyes as he harrassed Baxter and timed his leap perfectly. The deflection went to Hervey, who passed up a chance for the tie to go for the win.

“We won,” Hervey remembers thinking as soon as he saw the release.

Lowe said it will be a moment to remember the rest of his life, but he was more happy to send his seniors out on top than with his own moment.

“I just wanted them to win so bad,” Lowe said. “It was amazing. They picked me up and were carrying me off the court. I just got this real bubbly feeling. It means a lot.”

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Kapaun: Hullings 1 4-6 7, Cherne 1 0-0 3, Baxter 4 3-4 11, Hamilton 2 2-2 6, Lickteig 3 4-6 10, Ewers 0 0-0 0, O’Connor 0 0-0 0, Santiago 1 0-0 2, Akao 0 4-4 4, Gross 1 0-0 3. Totals 13 (3) 17-27 46.

Heights: Hervey 2 0-0 6, Reed 8 2-2 20, Arnold 1 0-0 2, Moreland 0 0-0 0, WIlbeck 1 0-0 2, Lowe 1 0-0 3, Bell 4 1-4 9, C. Ellis 2 1-1 5. Totals 19 (5) 4-7 47.