Late shot by Bax lifts Helias past St. Charles

TROY, Mo. — Adam Bax played the role of hero Wednesday night.

The Helias sophomore knifed through the St. Charles’ defense for the game-winning layup as time expired to give the Crusaders a 57-56 victory in a Class 4 sectional game at Troy Buchanan High School.

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“I knew time was running down and I had to do something,” Bax said. “I just went to the basket and finished.

“I’m just glad that we won.”

The buzzer beater came after St. Charles missed the front end of a one-and-one with eight seconds to play. Bax took a pass on the wing and drove straight down the middle of the lane for the winner.

“He’s had a great postseason for us,” Helias head coach Josh Buffington said. “That’s a sophomore that’s not scared right there. Not only does he get to the rim, he finishes in traffic. It was a great play. Our guys are all very excited right now.”

That’s an understatement. As the buzzer expired just after the ball splashed through the net, Bax’s delirious teammates mobbed him on the court.

“I thought they were going to hurt me,” Bax quipped. “But it was great though.”

Bax saved Helias from what would have been a crushing loss. The Crusaders led by 13 points late in the third quarter and by 10 early in the fourth period.

St. Charles finally woke up in the final frame, slowly chipping away at the deficit. The Pirates got within a point with 1:58 to go. After Helias turned the ball over on its next possession, one of the most bizarre plays you’ll see handed St. Charles its first lead since 2-0.

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During a scramble for a loose rebound following a St. Charles’ missed shot, a Crusader inadvertently tipped the ball in Helias’ own basket to give the Pirates a 56-55 edge with 30 seconds to play.

“We were battling for the rebound and seeing that we’re not going to get it, one of our guys tips it and it goes in,” Buffington said of the play. “It really just seemed like we couldn’t buy a break for about a two-minute stretch. The ball just bounced their way on that play.”

Helias turned the ball over on the next possession, but St. Charles missed the front end of a one-and-one with 23 seconds to go.

“We knew it wasn’t over and we knew we still had time,” Buffington said. “We had a lot of leadership on the floor at that time.”

The Crusaders couldn’t connect on a layup, and St. Charles went to the free-throw line again with eight seconds to play.

After another missed free throw, Bax won the game for the Crusaders.

“It felt great to finish the layup for the team,” Bax said. “It was great to get the win.”

It looked like Helias would cruise into the quarterfinals for the first three quarters. The Crusaders led 21-12 after one quarter and 37-30 at halftime. Helias went 15-of-22 from the floor in the first half, including 6-of-9 from 3-point range.

The Crusaders took their largest lead at 51-38 with 35 seconds left in the third quarter on a layup from Casey McCollum, but St. Charles cut the deficit to 51-41 heading into the fourth stanza.

Isiah Sykes paced Helias with 15 points, while Hale Hentges and Collin Caywood both had 11. Bax scored just four points, but that didn’t matter with his game-saving heroics. He also pulled down a game-high eight rebounds.

“The pieces are really starting to come together for our team,” Buffington said. “I know we didn’t play perfect tonight, but our team morale is great, we’re very balanced right now. We’re starting to click.”

Chase Morfeld tallied a game-high 17 points for the Pirates (24-5), while Jason Draggs and Brice Wiggs added 10 apiece.

Helias (21-7) advances to take on Normandy (16-13) in a quarterfinal game at 2:45 p.m. Saturday at Francis Howell High School.

“We’re very happy with where we’re at,” Buffington said. “This is a time of the year when you want to be playing your best basketball. I truly believe we are. We know one thing is for sure, we get to practice two more times and we’ll leave it all on the floor again on Saturday afternoon.”

See also:

Defense leads Helias girls past St. Charles West

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