With 4:27 left in the game, the Griffons trailed by three: 50-53.
That was the point that Joe Manthe decided to take over the game. He scored nine of the teams last 11 points down the stretch to give the Griffons the lead 61-60.
Fort Hays had the ball though with a chance to take the lead with less than a minute left but missed and had to foul.
Guard Rickey Quarles ended up with the ball in the clutch situation, was fouled by Fort Hays and sent to the free throw stripe for two shots with 14 seconds left in the game. Quarles had to make at least one of the free throws to ensure that luck shot Fort Hays took and went in wouldnâ€™t beat his team. He missed both.
Fort Hays ran down the court and got three shots off. Miss, rebound, miss, reboundâ€¦ And the final miss before the buzzer sounded to end the game. Fans for Missouri Western finally got to take a sigh of relief after the two missed free throws and the three Tiger chances to score in the last 14 seconds. The Tigers did everything in their power to get the ball in the basket but couldnâ€™t convert.
It was frantic madness for those long seconds, but once the buzzer sounded, everything stopped. The Griffons men got to hold their heads high the second game in a row.
The Griffons played hard in the first half led by guard Kenny Oliver who broke down the defense with ease, then got the ball to open shooters on the perimeter or, as the double-team came to stop the drive, Oliver would hit one of his teammates streaking to the basket.
Joe Manthe, who has started the last two games for the Griffons, played great against the Tigers on Saturday. In the first half Manthe had 12 points for the Griffons, including an alley oop over the top of the Fort Hays Tiger defense. He out jumped his defender who saw the play coming, grabbed the ball off the defenders fingertips, pulled it back and then dunked it with ease.
The crowd went wild for maybe the first time all season long. The sad thing is, even though the Missouri Western men played hard, were physical, got rebounds and were winning 33-31 at halftime, people still left after the halftime show was over. The men played just as well in the second half even though no one was watching.
The team they were playing wasnâ€™t great, but they were still playing for something. What that is, I donâ€™t know. Maybe to make it to the MIAA tournament? I donâ€™t know but it has been fun to watch them play the last three games. They have out played every opponent and even the game they lost against Emporia, they never quit. Next up for the Griffons is Truman State in Kirksville, Missouri.