The Thunder Mountain High School Falcons lost their first ever state basketball tournament game 60-56 to the state’s number-two ranked Colony Knights.
It easily could have been a different outcome.
With five minutes remaining in the game, the Falcons trailed by just three points to the Knights. They had led in the first half and in the opening moments of the second half.
Then it was welcome to state basketball.
A hard foul, one that radio announcers called “a freaking hack,” was not called... and on the other end Colony was sent to the free throw line on a virtual no contact.
“Yeah there were a few call I would have liked to have,” TMHS coach John Blasco said. “It is definitely a big stage, a big court and bright lights. For the first time ever being on that floor, a four-point loss to the state’s second best team is not too bad.”
Then the Knights’ Hunter Eisenhower started to shoot on the level of his reputation and Colony pressured the Falcons full court.
“The game was back and forth,” Blasco said. “They came out with a little bit of pressure on us and some traps that we were not ready for it. It kind of got us in a hurry up mode we do not normally get into.”
Colony led 49-38 with four minutes remaining when the Falcons called a time out.
But this IS state basketball and Matt Seymour drained a long three under the Sullivan Arena lights to cut the lead to eight and Ty Grussendorf dropped another deep triple to cut the deficit down to five, 49-44.
Colony’s Joe Gray hit his fifth and sixth free throws of the game and the Falcons then threw a pass out of bounds.
With one minute and 49 seconds remaining in the game, the Knights were pressured into a double dribble.
Trailing by nine, the Falcons in their first state tournament, began to work themselves back into contention. Junior Ben Jahn hits a triple to cut the lead to 53-47 and the Falcons made a quick foul to slow the clock.
Colony’s Gray hit two free throws for an eight-point advantage.
With 45 seconds remaining the Falcons missed two free throws but Josh Tupou rebounded and passed outside to Seymour who drained another triple to cut the lead to five.
Gray hit one of two free throws and Sam Jahn drained a three.
Colony’s Damien Fulp made two free throws and Matt Seymour hit a three to cut the lead to 58-56 with two seconds left.
Gray notched two more free throws to slam the door on the Falcon’s first attempt at a state tournament win, 60-56.
Colony had led at the half 29-28 and TMHS had taken a five-point lead in the third period. Colony’s largest lead in the first half was eight points.
Seymour led the Falcons with 19 points and a game-high eight rebounds, Sam Jahn added 10 points and four boards; Ben Jahn hit for 10 with five rebounds; Josh Tupou scored six, boarded five, had three assists and one steal; Ty Grussendorf scored six; and Jacob Calloway two. Vili Tupou had four rebounds and three assists.
Colony was led by Gray’s game-high 23 points. Hunter Eisenhower added 13 for the Knights and had four rebounds; Fulp scored 11 and had four assists; Jeremy Compton scored six, Antonio Bush four, Nathan Umbarger two with eight rebounds, and Tanner Menard one.
The Falcons outrebounded Colony 29-19, including on the offensive end 16-6. The Knights hit an outstanding 87-percent at the charity stripe, going 20-23 while Thunder Mountain made 9-16 for 56-percent. The Falcons were 13-29 from the field for 40-percent and 7-21 from three-point land for 33.3 percent; the Knights shot 11-28 (43.6) and 6-11(54.5), respectively.
“We made a nice run for it,” Blasco said. “Unfortunately time expired. We definitely gave it a good effort. In a back and forth game it comes down to who is going to make that one run and they got us.”
Thunder Mountain will now play at 11:30 a.m. today at the Sullivan Arena against Palmer, a 68-61 loser to East Anchorage on Thursday.
TMHS lost to Palmer early in the season. The Moose feature one of the best players in the state in Conner Looney.