YUKON — Hugo guard Trey Johnson bolted away from his defender, securing the ball with enough space to securely run out the final 2.9 seconds.
The Buffaloes led perennial state power Millwood 37-36 in the closing moments of Thursday night's Class 3A state quarterfinals. All they needed was an accurate inbounds pass to complete the wild upset. And they got it.
But what happened next, in one stunning moment filled with jubilation and arena-wide disbelief, flipped the end result on its head, leading to a 38-37 Millwood win and heartbreaking Hugo defeat.
Johnson received the inbounds pass heading toward his own hoop, needing only an innocent dribble or two to close it out. But instead, in a moment of confusion (as his coach would explain it), Johnson lofted a layup toward his own basket, thinking he was going the other way.
“When I saw the kid going that way, I was like, ‘No, he's not. No, he's not ... Oh, yes he is,'” Millwood assistant coach David Samilton recalled. "I couldn't believe it.”
As the buzzer went off, Johnson's layup fell through. And for a brief moment, the entire arena fell silent.
Hugo's raucous crowd went still. Millwood's previously disheartened group of fans took a moment for reassurance, before breaking out in a wild celebration fit for this unlikely of an escape job.
“That was truly a miracle,” Samilton would say.
But on the other end of the emotional spectrum lay Johnson and his heartbroken teammates, brought to tears by an unfortunate mistake.
“Without a doubt, that's the toughest locker room I've ever had to talk to,” Hugo coach Darnell Shanklin said.
Johnson, in particular, was tough to console. The junior had played energized and effective for more than 31 minutes, helping key an impressive defensive effort.
But that final play, two of the four points he was credited with on the night, is the one that will stick through a tough offseason.
“He gives you 100 percent all the time,” Shanklin said. “Heart goes out to the kid because he feels bad. He feels really, really bad.”
With the loss, Hugo finishes the season at 21-7. Millwood (16-9), meanwhile, hopes to ride this momentous luck into Friday's semifinal game against two-time defending state champ Centennial. Tip is at 9 p.m. at State Fair Arena.
“I feel sorry for him,” Samilton said. “Just like Chris Webber, when he called the timeout. I really do feel sorry for him. But hey, I'll take it.”