Incredible. Improbable. Unbelievable.
Pick your adjective for Millwood's crazy Class 3A basketball championship run.
For his players, coach Varryl Franklin hopes it becomes more than a wild three-day experience on the basketball court. He wants it to mean something to them beyond the basketball gym.
Millwood's state record-tying 15th basketball championship was more bizarre and dramatic than any of the 14 before it — maybe more so than any other championship in any other sport at any other school.
The Falcons would have been eliminated Thursday if not for Hugo's increasingly more famous wrong-basket shot. Then Millwood needed two overtimes and a last-second tip-in to defeat two-time defending Class 3A champion Centennial in Friday's semifinals.
And it took three overtimes to settle the title game Saturday night, with Millwood finally sealing the 59-53 victory over Okemah at State Fair Arena.
The Falcons found Thursday's win hard to wrap their heads around. But ultimately, it gave them a sense of destiny. The gold ball was supposed to be theirs — they just had to go take it.
“We thought we were blessed,” Franklin said. “We had our break, we had our blessing, so now, let's go take care of business. That's the way the kids took it, and I love them so much for that.
“This is a small lesson to learn in a big picture. They've grown from this. They look like their faith has grown so much more. We just hope we can build on that on a personal level, and as students.”
Michael Mays scored 19 points and Ashford Golden had 17 points and 10 rebounds, along with a crucial block late in the third overtime Saturday. Golden also had the tip-in to beat Centennial Friday night.
“God is good, that's all I can say,” Golden said. “This kind of thing pushes you to be the best player you can be. We saw that (Saturday night).”
Millwood's championship destiny actually began to fall into place a week ago, when Mays hit a late 3-pointer that gave the Falcons a 43-40 victory over Stroud in the area championship round — a win that aligned them with Hugo in the bracket for Thursday's first-round game.
Pushed to the edge of defeat on multiple occasions Friday and Saturday night, Millwood always responded, whether it was in the form of tough defense or clutch offense, like the three free throws Cameron Batson hit with seven seconds left in the first overtime to tie the game.
Okemah had the ball for the final shot to win the game at the end of the first two overtimes, but never came away with a clean look.
“After Thursday, we really started to think that maybe we were supposed to win it,” Batson said. “God does things in different ways.”
Drama aside, the gold ball will sit in Millwood's trophy case just the same, alongside 14 others, tying the Falcons with Tulsa Washington for the most in state history.
“This has been wild. It's been a roller coaster,” Millwood senior Chris Crook said. “We've just been having to fight. It's just been crazy. It feels real good though. We worked hard, and now we can call ourselves state champs.”
Hugo's Trey Johnson, the player who mistakenly scored in Millwood's basket at the buzzer to give the Falcons a 38-37 victory, hasn't been forgotten in the process.
“Our prayers are with him and his family,” Franklin said. “I know it's tough, but people are coming together around him. That's Oklahoma. He's got a great coach (Darnell Shanklin) and a supportive program. I know he'll be OK, but our prayers are still with him.”