By Matt Turer — firstname.lastname@example.org
Columbia, Mo. — The magic ended under the lights Saturday in Columbia for the Crane boys.
Winners of 10 straight since a 10-10 start that came amidst an early season stretch of eight losses in a 10-game period, the Pirates made the closest thing to a Cinderella run of any of the six Southwest Missouri programs at this weekend’s state championships.
“I didn’t think we’d make it this far as a team,” an emotional Dalton Hayes said. “We really stepped up and gave everything and stayed focused. It’s something we’ll never forget. Getting second place in Columbia, it’s something you can’t take away from us.”
Hayes led Crane (20-10) with 28 points and Tyler Campbell added nine inside Mizzou Arena, but 33 points from Oran’s Jacob Shoemaker and 19 by Max Priggel pushed the Eagles past the Pirates in the second half of a 70-63 Class 2 boys state title final.
Crane led Oran 6-0 2.5 minutes into the game and held onto that lead for nearly the entire first quarter before a 3-pointer by Shoemaker and a pair of free throws from Priggel put Oran up 15-13 after eight minutes.
The Pirates and Eagles (23-8) mostly traded buckets throughout the second, but a four-point Crane lead with under 30 seconds left in the half was cut to 28-27 by another Shoemaker trey, swinging the momentum towards Oran at the break.
Shoemaker finished 3-of-4 from 3 but did his most damage at the line, powering his way to 19 free throw attempts and connecting on 16.
“Physicalness,” Crane head coach Craig Campbell said. “They pushed us around, and that was one of my concerns. [Physicality] is one thing we struggled with this season.”
Six of Crane’s 10 losses this season came against football schools, pointing to Campbell’s comments on issues with more physical rosters.
A pair of fourth-quarter technical fouls by Hayes and Wyatt Vaught turned what was a five-point deficit to a 10-point hole in a stretch of two minutes late in the fourth quarter. Suddenly trailing 63-53 with 1:47 to play, Crane couldn’t recover, only briefly getting as close as 65-60 with 31 seconds on the clock.
“We played all together as a family [this season],” Hunter Brantley said. “We played as one. It’s been a great run, and it’s hard to lose in the state championship game, but we’ll all stick together after this and we’ll be ready to come back and watch them next year. Today there had to be a winner and a loser and we just happened to take the loss this time. They played a great game.”
For Oran, Saturday marked the school’s first ever state title.
“We did it. We were the first ones and we did it. I’ve been dreaming about it since I was probably one. It’s like a dream. It doesn’t seem real yet,” Shoemaker said.
This was Crane’s first state title appearance since winning the Class 2 title in 2011 over Bernie.
Both teams shot well from the floor, with Crane converting at 44.7 percent and Oran at 44.2 percent.
Oran hit 26-of-36 free throws as a team to 15-of-19 for Crane.
FINAL: Oran 70, Crane 63
Oran 15 12 21 22- 70
Crane 13 15 15 20- 63
Oran- Jacob Shoemaker 33, Max Priggel 19, Layne Johnson 10, Drew Reischmean 6, Cole Priggel 2
Crane- Dalton Hayes 23, Tyler Campbell 9, Wyatt Vaught 8, Brent Williams 7, Colton Elder 6, Deven White 5, Bryston Branstetter 3, Braydon Cook 2