It was the kind of shot that inspires Hollywood scripts.
A clock running down to triple zeroes, a season hanging in the balance, a buzzer going off as the ball flies toward the rim…and finds nothing but the bottom of the net. The crowd explodes as happy teammates mob a celebrating shooter.
Unfortunately for the Ottumwa boys’ basketball team, Brok Hopwood’s buzzer-beating three-pointer didn’t win the game at Newton Monday night. The heart-stopping 25-footer improbably forced overtime, but the Bulldogs would not score again in a 72-64 loss.
Early on, it looked as if Newton (12-10) would run away from Ottumwa (2-21). The Cardinals hit eight 3-pointers in the first half and led 39-26 at the break. OHS began turning the tide in the third quarter by switching to a man-to-man defense, keeping Newton from hitting another trey through the end of regulation.
The comeback began with a variety of Bulldogs hitting key shots. Matt Moreland had two key third-quarter shots on his way to 14 points. Nic Young was hard top stop inside and finished with 17. Carter Burns had eight points through three quarters, despite Newton’s efforts to face-guard the junior everywhere he went.
Burns, though, saved his best for the fourth quarter. He knocked down three 3-point shots in the stanza, scoring 15 points in all to push his game total to 23, and his last free throw of the game gave Ottumwa its first lead. Critically, however, Burns was forced to commit his fifth foul after missing his final shot with his team down a point and less than 30 seconds remaining.
Newton’s struggles at the free throw line gave Ottumwa not one but two more chances in regulation. The Cardinals’ Nick Easley made only one of two after the Burns foul, putting OHS down 63-61. The Bulldogs came up empty on their first chance to tie and were forced to foul senior Nick Glotfelty with seven seconds left. He could have iced the game, but after making his first free throw to open up a three-point, his second toss was off the mark.
Matt Moreland raced the ball into the frontcourt for Ottumwa, dribbling left and then back right as the Bulldogs set a double screen for Hopwood on the right side. The junior popped out above the top of the key, took a handoff from Moreland and launched his game-tying attempt from 23 feet just before the buzzer sounded. The ball swished through the net as the sound of the horn died away, stunning the home Newton fans but launching the visiting Ottumwa fans into a frenzy.
In overtime, neither team scored for nearly two minutes, until a give-and-go play left Newton freshman Connor Gholson open in left corner for his third trey of the night, putting the Cardinals ahead 67-64. Newton would ice the game by hitting five out of six free throws as Ottumwa, with Burns fouled out, was unable to generate any offense in the extra period.
Sam Moreland added seven points to the Ottumwa effort in the loss, while Hopwood’s three-pointer were his only points of the night.