ASHLAND, Mo. - Trailing almost the entire time in its district semifinal against Hallsville, Blair Oaks couldn't get the key baskets when it needed them the most.
The top-seeded Falcons had three chances to tie or take the lead in the final 10 seconds, but came up short in a 54-52 loss in the Class 3 District 8 Tournament on Saturday night.
"We had good looks at the end of the game but we weren't able to stand up and knock shot down," Blair Oaks coach Ryan Fick said.
The fourth-seeded Indians (17-9) took a 54-52 lead on a pair of free throws by Nathaniel Katz with 30 seconds left. After the Falcons (21-6) worked the clock down they drew a foul. That was followed by a pair of missed free throws, and a missed jumper from the corner. The Falcons had one more chance after the ball went out of bounds with three seconds left. But an open look at a 3-pointer rimmed out and Hallsville advanced to today's title game against Southern Boone.
Before the difficult ending, the Falcons were done in by tough shooting and Hallsville guard Brenden Beatty. The senior scored 30 points, including four 3-pointers.
Beatty scored 14 of his points in the first quarter as Hallsville raced out to a 16-11 lead after on.
One of Beatty's most important baskets came at the end of the third quarter. After the Falcons had battled back to take a 44-40 lead, Beatty hit a 3-pointer to beat the buzzer, cutting the lead to 44-43. It was Blair Oaks' first lead since early in the first quarter.
Fick said that was a big momentum changer as Blair Oaks couldn't get its offense going in the fourth quarter.
"He just came out and had a great game," Fick said. "There's nothing else you can say about that. That's a senior making plays. He came out and made some shots early. I don't think we did a great job guarding him early. ... I think a lot of the shots (in the second half) he hit had a hand in his face."
While the Falcons held Beatty to 10 points in the second half, the Indians were stifling the Falcons with a 2-3 zone defense. Blair Oaks shot just 37 percent from the floor and were 6-of-21 from 3-point range.
"Their zone really messed with us," Fick said. "It took us a while to get going in the zone."
Blair Oaks was 2-of-8 from the field in the fourth quarter.
"It's just a matter of shots not falling," Fick said. "That's the type of team we were. I thought we got the looks we wanted to."
Brett Voss led Blair Oaks with 11 points. Joey Bernskoetter added 10.
Katz added 10 points for Hallsville.
The loss breaks a streak of six straight district titles for Blair Oaks.
"I'm proud of our three seniors," Fick said. "They worked hard all year. I was really happy with how the team gelled."