Ben Mihelich tossed in a short jumper at the buzzer as Wauwatosa East beat Pius XI in a 49-47 thriller in a WIAA regional game Friday night before a packed house at East.
Popes junior guard Donovan Jackson tied the game at 47-47 with his second straight 3-pointer with 10.2 seconds left. After a timeout, East senior Ben Carpenter inbounded the ball, passed the ball to another senior Kyle Vnuk at mid-court, who in turn passed the ball back to Carpenter racing down the left side of the court.
With time running out Carpenter, who looked like he was going to try a 3-pointer, instead threw a bullet pass to Mihelich, who tossed up a short jumper, which rolled around the rim and fell through for the game winner.
Carpenter actually thought Vnuk was fouled, but when no call was made, he called for the ball and made his big play.
"I was so excited," he said. "It was cool. It was cool. The energy was something else. We haven't had that many people (watching) in like, forever. It was fun."
When asked when he knew when his first game-winning shot was going in, Mihelich said, "After it went through the bottom of the net.
"Ben Carpenter made a good pass and we got a good 1-on-1 shot, which is what we were looking for."
East coach Tim Arndorfer knew he had to change up some things after a 14-14 first half.
"We knew we had to change the tempo; I think the press helped out a little bit. We got a couple steals and our defense turned into our offense. We were struggling. That's a good defensive basketball team. Size in the middle and a lot of athletic guards around the perimeter."
Arndorfer had wanted the ball in the hands of his two best ballhandlers - Nate Moore and Anthony Carroll.
"We wanted to get the ball up the floor. With 10 seconds left, you can do a lot of things. You are going to get a good look. Kyle made an excellent pass and Carp made an unbelievable find. What can you say about Mihelich's shot?
"Unorthodox finish, but it went through and that's all that mattered I guess."
Tosa East was led by Mihelich's 13 points, while Carroll and Derrick Hurt had 8 each. The Raiders held Levi Bradley to 14 points before he fouled out with 20.9 seconds left and Jackson was just sensational with 26 points including the two game-tying 3s at the end of the game.
The Red Raiders sank 20-for-24 free throws, while the Popes were 7-for-11. East is now 14-9 while Pius finished the year 13-10.
East travels to Wisconsin Lutheran on Saturday to play a 7 p.m. regional championship game. The Vikings crushed Messmer, 72-34.
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