There was just enough time for improvisation.
The Max boys basketball team had no timeouts and only 4.7 seconds to go when Micah Jacobsen lined up for his final free throw. As the Our Redeemer's Christian School junior's shot clanked off the rim safely into the defense's grasp, Colton Schroeder started his sprint.
Schroeder received a pass, launched a desperation heave from 28 feet away and hoped for the best. The end result: a beautiful arc concluded with a swish and an eruption from the visiting Cossacks' players and fans after an improbable 59-58 win.
Max senior Cody Lies blocks Our Redeemer’s Christian School freshman Josh VanLith during Max’s 59-58 win at ORCS on Saturday.
"I just pulled up and I felt it," Schroeder said afterward, with a grin that hadn't yet evaporated.
Just minutes earlier, Max (2-8) seemed destined for another loss. ORCS (9-3) led 52-41 with 6:19 to go, the momentum clearly on the side of the Knights. But turnovers were a problem all day and further miscues let the Cossacks back into the game.
A Reid Groninger layup started Max's spurt. Craig Talbott's 3-pointer polished off a 9-1 run that pulled the Cossacks within 53-50.
"We were going to do our best to stick with them," Schroeder said. "I know we struggled at various times this year. Just to come out here and really play, it's nice."
Until Schroeder's 3, the theme of the fourth quarter's final minute was Max's missed opportunities. Groninger, who along with Schroeder finished with a game-high 18 points, had his potential game-tying layup swatted away by ORCS senior forward Tanner Strand with less than 30 seconds to go.
Max coach Jade Larson called a timeout after his team fouled and preached to his team that the game wasn't over.
"(Larson) just put in our head to get back on defense and get the ball back," Groninger said. "It happens. You just gotta try to get the ball back."
Logan Sorum hit one of two free throws to widen the gap to 59-56 with 26.5 second left. After Groninger missed another layup, Knights junior guard Nick Stenvold tried for a transition bucket. His shot missed and Talbott was able to score on the other end to cut the deficit to one.
The foul followed, as did Jacobsen's miss and Schroeder's ensuing bucket. From Larson's vantage point, the shot was beautiful enough to celebrate early.
"I think I walked halfway onto the court when it was still in the air," he said. "I kinda had a feeling."
Strand's 17 points paced the Knights, who return to district play with a game Tuesday at Mohall-Lansford-Sherwood.
Talbott joined Groninger and Schroeder in double figures with 10 points. The Cossacks host Wilton-Wing on Tuesday.