KEARNEY, Neb. — Omaha Northwest came into Saturday's Class A-7 District semifinal against Kearney playing spoiler.
And Lee Star played the starring role in the upset.
With the game knotted at 51-51 and four seconds left, the Huskies (8-15) had a chance to end the Bearcats' season. Star took the inbound pass and elevated from the floor. With the hand in his face, he drilled the 10-foot jumper to give Northwest the 53-51 victory.
Star finished with eight points and four rebounds.
Northwest advances to play at Omaha Central on Monday in the A-7 final.
"I thought that we had won the game," said Northwest coach Andrew Webb, whose team was 7-15 entering Saturday. "Then (the officials) had to put extra time back on (the clock). I had to settle the guys down again and I had to tell them 'Hey, we have to get a hand on this inbound pass and the game will be over,' and we did that."
With five-tenths of a second remaining, Kearney's Kanon Koster inbounded the ball to Jake Teichmeier, who ran the baseline. Teichmeier threw the ball in the direction of Koster, but Northwest was able to come up with the ball and seal the win.
The Bearcats wouldn't have been at risk of losing had they made free throws late in the game.
Overall, Kearney was 9 of 18 at the foul line — far off its season average of 72 percent.
With the Bearcats down 51-49, Austin Murray had a chance to tie the game, but Murray, a 76 percent free-throw shooter, missed both free throws. After a Koster layup tied the game 51-51 with a minute left, Koster stole the ball, went up for the layup and was fouled.
Like Murray, Koster, a 79-percent foul shooter, missed both.
Koster closed an impressive sophomore season with a team-high 16 points.
Kearney coach Drake Beranek told his players after the game that they shouldn't hang their heads.
"I told them, 'When you set expectations and goals, you don't always achieve them,'" Beranek said. "You can't be afraid to fail. Failure will only prompt you to be better here on out. Failure can teach you a lot of things. Credit those kids for being vulnerable and having goals."