The senior wanted the ball for a last-second shot. He got it. He did not disappoint.
The sharpshooter made the most important shot of his life Saturday to lift the Eagles to a 41-38 win over Osage City in the sub-state championship game in Wellsville.
Wellsville (20-3) plays 3 p.m. Wednesday in the first round of the 3A State Tournament in Hutchinson against Beloit (22-1).
Wellsville coach Thatcher Decker asked his players what they wanted to do in a timeout with 38 seconds left in a tie game.
“Carter Mann looked at me and said ‘hold it for one and I will hit it,’” Decker said.
Mann said, “It was my position to shoot it. I have a lot of confidence. I was trying to find a way to get past him.
“They are all good defenders. I saw a chance to pull up. I did and I ended up hitting it. It knew it was good when it left [my hand]. I can’t explain it. It is unreal. That is the highlight of our career.”
“It is unreal,” he said. “The seniors made a decision to hold it for the last shot. Carter took it. He is a great shooter. I knew it was going in. It feels amazing. We are going to Hutch.”
To get in position for the buzzer-beater, Wellsville had to rally to tie it.
The Eagles were down by eight in the middle of the third quarter. Osage City led 36-31 with five minutes left.
Jared Klamm scored seven straight points in 30 seconds. Wellsville got a couple of steals off its press and Klamm made Osage City pay.
“Our press has not worked all night,” Decker said. “We turned them over twice. We finished. That was huge.”
Mann said this team has been in these situations before.
“We have to keep grinding,” he said. “We had a couple of steals. Klamm hit some layups.”
Kearney said, “We needed to start playing defense and get a little run going. We did. Good things happen when you get on runs late in games. We had to keep our [eyes] on the prize and never give up.”
Wellsville has been in Osage City’s shoes. The Eagles lost on a last-second shot from nearly half court last year in sub-state.
This season, Augusta drained a buzzer-beating shot in the Baldwin tourney to beat the Eagles.
“It is about time one of these last-second ones went for us,” Decker said. “We did not fear anyone. We can play with anyone if given the opportunity. We went out took the opportunity from a great team.”
Mann said those gut-wrenching experiences only made the Eagles stronger.
“It made us more motivated to get this point,” he said. “This has been a dream of mine since I was a little kid. We knew this was our year.”
Kearney said getting their hearts ripped out by the Vikings made this feel so much sweeter.
“Last year losing like that was tough,” Kearney said. “I did not want to go out like that. We showed heart.”
The players began the journey the day after the Central Heights loss.
“They have been here every day,” Decker said. “They believed in me. They bought into what I thought was right.
“When I got here three years ago, I told these guys we will get to state before you graduate. They believed.
“I am so proud to take our [team] and town back.”