COLUMBIA — With one second remaining in the game, Josh Boyer was ready catch an inbound pass and heave a prayer.
But first he had to say one.
"I was like, 'Oh man this is one of those moments you dream of,'" he said. "A last-second shot and you're just kind of excited, but I said a quick prayer with my friend and it calmed me down a little bit."
The inbound pass was perfect, and Boyer attempted to draw a foul by jumping into an opposing player. But no whistle sounded, and his long shot was wide of the rim. As a result, Boyer and the Father Tolton Trailblazers fell to the Pilot Grove Tigers, 48-47.
Despite his team's disappointment, Tolton coach Tyler Clark saw the loss as an important learning opportunity.
"We'll learn from this," he said. "We probably would've learned less if we had won last-second, but we have some things to work on, and we'll go to the film and get better."
The Trailblazers seemed to have the edge in the first half, holding the Tigers to just nine points with less than five minutes remaining in the second quarter. Tolton took a 26-19 lead into the second half, but the momentum shifted.
The Trailblazers could not score until only 80 seconds remained in the third quarter. Meanwhile, the Tigers went on an extended scoring run.
"They made some runs," Clark said. "They made some adjustments at half. They went to a man defense, and they went away from their press."
Boyer attributed the swing to second-chance opportunities.
"They got a lot of offensive boards," he said. "The ball went off the rim a little tough (for Tolton). It was kind of unlucky at times, but that's what happens."
The Tigers controlled the floor, but Tolton sophomore guard Ryan Chappell did his best to drag his team back into the game. He hit a circus shot with 5:15 remaining in the game, landing hard on his backside, which put the Trailblazers up 41-39.
"We had a chance," Chappell said. "We had a chance the whole game. They made a run, and we made a run right back."
But it was the Tigers who produced the final run and handed the Trailblazers their first loss in their inaugural year as a varsity program. Tolton has a week to recover before hosting O'Hara on Dec. 7.