From a horde of Mountain View teammates and fans emerged Chase McClain. The mob surrounding the junior guard was still in shock, but a cool McClain swaggered from the mass with a bag of popcorn in hand.
His reward for delivering an Intermountain Conference championship.
Moments earlier, with four seconds left in the game, McClain was at the free-throw line. From the release, he knew his shot was off target. He raced to collect the long rebound along the left wing of the 3-point line and heaved up a shot, rattling home his only 3-pointer of the game as time expired. The Cougars’ bench erupted. McClain raised his arms toward the Mountain View rafters.
With a 53-50 win over Class 5A No. 10-ranked Summit, the No. 6 Cougars were once again IMC boys basketball champs.
“I just threw it up there,” McClain said, munching away. “I was just hoping it went in.”
In front of a packed and uproarious crowd, Mountain View (10-2 IMC, 18-5 overall) closed the regular season with its fourth straight win, the last coming in a winner-take-all over Summit (8-4, 12-7) for the IMC title.
“I begged them, man,” said Mountain View coach Brian Broaddus. “It’s fight. It’s now or never. Nothing to save it for. It’s your home court, and for the seniors, this is it. We were pushing a square rock up a hill all night. We couldn’t make a layup. … It was tough, but that’s this season.”
Summit built a 43-36 lead early in the fourth quarter until Mountain View began its comeback.
A corner 3-pointer by the Cougars’ Grant Jordan evened the score 46-46, and a McClain layup shortly after gave Mountain View a 48-47 edge with under three minutes to play. Summit tied the game 50-50 when Joe Hicks connected on two free throws, and a minute later, the Storm had possession with a chance to win the conference championship.
With eight seconds remaining, however, Summit committed a turnover, its 20th of the game and eighth in the fourth quarter, and McClain was fouled with four seconds to play.
The Mountain View junior missed the front end of a one-and-one but chased down the offensive board — then hit the dagger 3-pointer to win for the Cougs their 11th IMC title in 14 years.
“I was trying to call timeout,” Broaddus recalled of the frantic final possession. “It was too loud; you couldn’t hear it. As soon as we got the ball, I was calling for a timeout.”
The Storm, who entered the night one game back of Mountain View for first place and could have claimed their second straight IMC crown with a win, had a counterattack for every Cougar punch throughout the first three quarters. In the opening period, for example, Summit closed with a 12-3 surge to take a 15-12 lead into the second quarter.
After Mountain View opened the next period with nine straight points to go up 21-15, the Storm responded with a 13-5 surge, capped by Beau Blea’s buzzer-beating floater, to carry a 28-26 advantage into halftime. And in the third quarter, following a 10-1 Cougars run, Blea again hit a last-second layup to polish off a 12-0 run that gave the Storm a 41-36 lead going into the final eight minutes.
“That’s indicative of our kids,” said Summit coach Jon Frazier. “Like I told them after the game, just an extremely tightknit, competitive bunch of kids who just love each other. But at this point in the year, it’s fun to see them come together where they don’t get discouraged when things don’t necessarily go their way. It doesn’t surprise me. At this point in the year, that’s what you hope and expect of your kids, that they can respond in a positive way.”
McClain finished with 22 points, including 10 in the fourth quarter, to go with six rebounds for Mountain View, which earned an automatic bid to the first round of the 5A state playoffs. Matt Van Tassell added 13 points and seven boards, and Ian Amoroso had seven points.
“It was a lot of effort by me and my team,” McClain said. “We’ve gone through some struggles … and we were on a bad curve. But after that, with those hard practices, we were trying to step it up for our last four games. Like (Broaddus) says, there’s good times and bad times. And we just had to push through it.”
The Storm were paced by Karson Klecker’s 12 points and 11 rebounds. Hicks contributed 12 points, five boards and three assists, and Blea totaled 12 points and six assists. Summit’s loss, combined with Bend High’s win over Redmond on Friday, drops the Storm to third place in the IMC. Summit will be on the road for a play-in game on Wednesday.
“All we said was obviously this felt like this was a game we deserved to win, and we did everything we could to put ourselves in a position to win,” Frazier said. “But regardless of what happens, we get to play Wednesday. So our whole message was you can be upset about the outcome for a few minutes, but our whole goal now is we have a game on Wednesday with an opportunity to get to the state tournament in Corvallis.”
— Reporter: 541-383-0307, email@example.com .