It’s hard to believe it happened again, but it did. In a season rife with heart-breaking, last-second losses, the Festus Tigers suffered one more on Wednesday and it closed out their 2022-23 campaign. In the District Quarterfinals, the Tigers had a two-point lead over the Windsor Owls with time about to expire and Windsor hit a buzzer-beater from downtown to shock Festus and end their season.
Somehow, this was the third game this season between the two budding rivals that was decided by one point. The Owls took two of three, including the last one, which was obviously the most critical. The game started off in Festus’ favor with a 15-10 first quarter, helped by seven from Hayden Bates and six from Logan Cash, but Windsor bounced back in the second. They put up 18 to the Tigers’ 14 and the lead was trimmed to just one. At the half Festus led 29-28.
The game would get even tighter in the second half. Both teams put up 13 points and were just trading buckets back and forth. Arhmad Branch had his best frame of the day in the third with a big three and a pair of buckets. Then the fourth quarter happened. The back-and-forth game continued but it appeared Festus had this one locked up after a pair of free throws gave them a two point lead with just a couple seconds left on the clock.
Somehow though, the Owls inbounded the ball, streaked all the way down the court and ripped off a three as the buzzer sounded. It of course went in, and the Tigers fell victim to last-second heroics once again. It is the sixth time this season Festus has lost by a basket, and they had just seven losses total.
They had some wins in the same fashion as well, but it seemed to be more bugaboo than elation. Head Coach Jason Therrell commented on the unorthodox season with, “It’s really crazy to think how many dramatic games we had that ended both good and bad like that this year. Our season ended 20-7 and six of those losses were all in dramatic fashion by one basket, or overtime.”
It was a running theme throughout the season, but this was still a banner year for the Tigers. The team’s two Seniors, Branch and Cash, led the way for what was a very potent offense. Branch finished the season averaging 22.3 PPG, 87 rebounds, 136 assists and 105 steals. While Cash was good for 13.3 points per game and racked up a team-high 147 boards. He had 62 assists as well, but was known for his work in the paint and around the rim.
Also big around the rim was Bates, who put up 225 points and 129 rebounds. He had 79 assists and 48 steals as well. Carter Roth was the sharp-shooter from beyond the arc, as he sniped 73 three-pointers on the season and was good for 11.3 PPG.
Hunter Bates and Jeremiah Cunningham made big impacts as well. Hunter his some big shots and played solid defense, while Cunningham pulled down 120 rebounds and scored 102 points.
The loss of the two Seniors will be tough, but this is a team that looks to be competitive for years to come. Coach Therrell spoke to this season and beyond, “I am proud of our effort this season. We lost an incredible group of Seniors last year and were able to finish 20-7 this year and win 20 games again. We had new players step up. Logan and Arhmad had great statistical Senior seasons. Hunter bates, Carter Roth, Hayden Bates and Jeremiah Cunningham all stepped into very key roles and did a great job. There is a lot to look forward to for the Festus Tigers in the future.”
We couldn’t have said it any better ourselves. Congrats on Tigers, on a great 2022-23 campaign.