LINCOLN — The Kenesaw boys basketball team had a thrilling finish in its first state tournament game since 2008 — and second in 21 years. The Blue Devils had their chances to put the game away at the free-throw line in the fourth quarter — an aspect of the game that usually favors Kenesaw — but they were just 4-of-10 at the charity stripe in the final period of play, allowing Burwell to rally and send the first-round game of the Class D-1 state tournament to overtime.
The fifth-seeded Blue Devils then were held without a field goal in overtime, as fourth-seeded Burwell advanced to the semifinals with a 62-59 victory Thursday night at Lincoln North Star.
"That was a lot of fun. The kids played their guts out, just like I knew they would. These kids don't quit," said Kenesaw head coach Jack Einrem, whose Blue Devils lost their second straight to end the season after starting 23-0 before the district final. "I give Burwell a lot of credit. ... We got just a little bit complacent on offense a couple times. We just didn't attack the basket like we were trying to."
Kenesaw led 49-41 with 6:37 left in regulation, but Burwell (25-2) then began to rally. A deep 3-pointer from Burwell senior Blake Jeffres cut the lead to just four points with 5:28 remaining. Burwell later trimmed the lead to just one point after sophomore Keaton Klimek scored a basket with 48 seconds remaining.
The Blue Devils hit just 1-of-3 free-throw attempts in the final minute. Senior Brady Staton made one of out two with 16 seconds left to giave Kenesaw a 53-51 lead. Once again, the Longhorns answered, this time with a shot from freshman Ty Chaffin that tied the game with 10 seconds remaining. Kenesaw senior Tyler Schnitzler drove the ball to the other end of the floor and took some contact on a missed shot, but no foul was called and the game went to overtime.