INDIANAPOLIS | The ball hung on the rim for what seemed like an eternity. Then, when it slipped out and onto the floor, it seemed like the clock inside Conseco Fieldhouse sped up.
As Bishop Noll's Ronnye Beamon called for a timeout, the horn sounded loudly. Dramatically.
"That's what I'll always remember," Noll senior Adonis Filer said. "And we lost."
Indianapolis Park Tudor survived Noll 43-42 in Saturday's Class 2A state championship game in Indianapolis. The Panthers took their first lead in the game since being ahead 5-4 on Trevon Bluiett's layup and free throw with 1:22 left in the game. The Warriors' (26-1) had two shots in the time remaining and both missed.
Still, the 2,000-plus fans from Northwest Indiana in blue and gold meant a lot to the players and staff.
"They were great all year, and I know they'll be great next year, too," Beamon said. "We have the best fans in the state. They are awesome."
And in talking about his final shot that somehow rolled off the rim, Beamon was sure about where he thought it was going when it left his hands.
"I thought it was down," Beamon said. "I've shot that shot 5,000 times. I can't believe it came out."
Noll coach Drew Trost dealt with the pain of the moment as well as a philosophical view of the winter that he, his school and his players shared. The Warriors were the only undefeated team playing in Indianapolis this weekend and they were an 1/8th of an inch away from winning the school's first state title in boys basketball.
"I want our fans to know how grateful we are for what they've done," Trost said. "Thanks for an amazing year. They were awesome (on Saturday). Anytime we were in an uncomfortable place just seeing them in the stands allowed us to relax and just play.
"It was the same today as it has been all year."
Sophomore Milos Kostic held onto the large state runner-up trophy in the Warriors' locker room and continued the same theme that the north Hammond parochial school has touted all year.
"We are a family," Kostic said. "We are all thankful to them. They've been there for us from the start, and they were here today. We're still a young team. We'll work hard this summer and we're going to do everything we can to come back here next year and win."