Flinthills boys score at buzzer to advance

Lionel Tipton

ROSALIA – Flinthills notched its first sub-state victory Friday night, but that feat was overshadowed by the manner in which the Mustangs accomplished it.

In the Class 1A Division I game’s final minute, third-seeded Flinthills (6-11) found itself trailing sixth-seeded Udall, 59-55. 

But sophomore Nate Becker grabbed a rebound and put it back in to cut the deficit to 59-57 with 20 seconds left. The Mustangs then fouled Udall’s Trenton Whiteman, who hit the first shot but missed the second. Flinthills brought the ball quickly downcourt, and 6-foot-3 sophomore Hunter Lowmaster laid the ball in with 7 seconds left. Udall still led, 60-59, but the Mustangs stole the inbounds pass and Lowmaster beat the buzzer with another lay-in for a thrilling 61-60 victory.

All the Udall players and coaches could do was watch in stunned silence as the Eagles ended the season 2-14. Meanwhile, the Flinthills side celebrated as much as COVID protocols would allow.

Lowmaster’s last four points loomed much larger than the 15 he had scored before those. All night long, he had battled and watched as Udall’s 6-6 junior Austin King racked up his game-high 30 points. Many of King’s buckets came on putbacks, but he also had three three-pointers.

“Size was rough on us,” Mustangs coach Tod Johnson said.

Lowmaster said he concentrated his focus on the inbounds pass on the final play.

“All that was going through my head was I’ve got to tip this pass on the inbounds,” he said. “I knew he was going to pass it, because I saw his eyes, so I tipped it and tipped it again so that tall kid (King) wouldn’t get it, and I just put it up, and if coach hadn’t made me do all those ‘bunny’ shots, I wouldn’t have made that.”

The Mustangs advance to the sub-state semifinal next Friday at second-seeded Central of Burden (6-13), which received a first-round bye. 

“It’s the first time the men’s basketball team here has won a sub-state game, so I’m pretty excited for second round,” Lowmaster said. 

Another of Flinthills’ heroes in the game was junior guard Kendall Pinkerton, who finished with 15 points, including three three-pointers. Pinkerton, a transfer from El Dorado, was so new, he wasn’t even listed on the Flinthills program.

“He has come out and helped us a bunch,” Lowmaster said.

Flinthills trailed Udall by as many as 10 points, 54-44, with 4:38 to play, but a 17-6 run to close the game sealed the victory.

Pinkerton said he has played in about five games since joining the Mustangs and said that Johnson told the team to just keep fighting. 

“Don’t give up and keep fighting on defense on our press, and that kept working out for us,” he said. 

Johnson said he kept imploring his squad to battle and not to let the ball get inbounds. He said the Mustangs particularly need to improve their fourth-quarter performance.

“We’ve got to put four quarters together,” he said. “We haven’t put four quarters together all year. As soon as we put four quarters together, we’re going to be pretty tough to beat.

“We were down, but the boys keep fighting, and we’re moving on.”

Flinthills has no seniors and only three juniors – Pinkerton, Cael Sorum and Jackson Houseman.

“We’re really young; everybody’s coming back next year,” Johnson said. “At any given time, I’ve got two, maybe three freshmen on the court.

“But they (the Mustangs) just kept scrapping, and hard work pays off.” 

Flinthills boys 61, Udall 60

Udall 19;8;19;14 – 60

Flinthills  21;10;11;19 – 61

UDALL – King 7(3) 7-13 30, Harness 5(1) 1-4 14, Whiteman 0(3) 1-2 10, Otis 1(1) 0-0 5, C. Hutchison 0 1-2 1, L. Hutchison 0 0-1 0. Totals 13(8) 10-22 60.

FLINTHILLS – Lowmaster 9 1-3 19, Becker 2(1) 9-10 16, Pinkerton 2(3) 2-5 15, Leslie 3 0-0 6, Sorum 0(1) 0-0 3, Houseman 1 0-0 2. Totals 17(5) 12-18