The vast American high school basketball landscape is littered with imbalances. In any state, any city or town, you’ll find massive gaps in quality between two teams. The talent deficits often lead to blowouts. But last week, Marion County High School in Philadelphia, Mo., was facing a different kind of deficit. A quantity deficit.
With its game against Atlanta High School tied at 48 in the final minute, Marion County had been reduced to just two players. It began the game with six. Four had fouled out.
And somehow, it pulled out a victory.
Marion County struggled to inbound the ball in the final minute, but on one play, Ty Bowdish spun away from a few defenders, took a pass, and was fouled attempting a layup at the other end.
Bowdish, who had 28 of his team’s 51 points, eventually broke a 50-50 tie at the free throw line with 1.4 seconds remaining.
Video of the extraordinary game, via MaxPreps, is above. Here’s the rundown of the final minute, from the Quincy Herald-Whig:
Bowdish made two free throws with 15 seconds, and Brynn Baker made two free throws on Atlanta’s next possession to tie the score. Marion County turned the ball over, then committed a foul with five seconds remaining. However, both Atlanta free throws were no good.
Bowdish grabbed the defensive rebound and, despite being quadruple-teamed, dribbled the length of the floor. He was fouled with 1.4 seconds remaining. He missed the first free throw but made the second.
The Hornets (2-12) then missed a half-court heave at the buzzer.
After the game, Marion County coach Justin Ellison – who had resorted to a “triangle defense” when reduced to three players – reportedly expressed his amazement on Twitter. “Been playing, watching, coaching basketball at a lot of different levels,” he wrote. “I’ve never seen anything like I did tonight.”
Nor, surely, had anybody watching the game, or reading about it days later. Remarkable.