“If we would have hit those free throws, it would have given us a little bigger cushion,’’ Clapp said. “Those are our two best free-throw shooters and they have to hit those in that situation.’’
Bott, who finished with a team-high 12 points, admitted the Blue Devils should have never been in a position to lose the game on a last-second shot.
“We’ve got to work on our free throws for those late-game situations,’’ he said. “We usually make them in practice, but we didn’t tonight and that’s something we need to learn from.’’
The senior guard also acknowledged that Taylor, who led all scorers with 18 points, got behind him for that attempted game-winning basket.
“Our hearts stopped when those shots went up,’’ said Bott. “We knew it would either go to Cole (Taylor) or (Ross) Learned for that final shot.’’
Bott wound up playing a key role in the Blue Devils turning a 19-14 halftime deficit into a 36-32 lead with 2:16 left in the contest.
“In the second half, we just turned up our defense,’’ said Bott, who scored 10 second-half points. “We knew we just had to get one stop at a time and the offense would come.’’
Bismarck-Henning (13-0) scored 15 points in the third quarter, Bott had seven, to take the lead away from Salt Fork.
“You can’t complain about holding a team to 36 points, but they made the key scores,’’ Johnson said. “Andy Bott stepped up and made some big plays.’’
Both teams came away for Saturday’s championship game with a positive outlook.
“We haven’t really played any close games this year until tonight,’’ Clapp said. “I was looking forward to this game, because I knew it would be a tight, tough game.’’
Johnson echoed those sentiments, wishing that his team had an extra second for that third shot attempt.