BOLIVAR – The Bolivar boys basketball team has had a couple of heartbreaking losses that were decided at the buzzer this season.
But when it mattered most, the Liberators were the ones who were the victors following a last-second shot.
Conley Garrison’s 3-pointer with six seconds left in regulation gave Bolivar new life, and the Liberators rallied in overtime to claim a 59-52 victory against Grandview on Saturday in a Class 4 quarterfinal game at Southwest Baptist University.
“I knew I wanted to take the shot,” Garrison said. “This sounds selfish, but I wasn’t going to let anybody else take the shot. Honestly, when it left my hands, it didn’t feel good. It didn’t go in clean.”
It might not have gone in clean, but the shot revived a Bolivar team that saw a comfortable 31-14 halftime lead disappear.
The Liberators trailed Grandview 39-35 at the end of the third quarter and went into the extra period tied at 47. Garrison, who finished with a game-high 34 points, scored all 16 of Bolivar’s points in the third and fourth quarters.
“We came in at the half, and I know we were up 17, but nobody believed they weren’t going to make a run,” Bolivar coach Robby Hoegh said. “That team is a load. We were prepared for that. What we didn’t like was that it came off of turnovers. That’s what we really wanted to (not) have happen.”
In the end, it didn’t matter.
Garrison scored eight points in overtime as the Liberators earned a spot in the Final Four for the second time in three years.
“As a senior, you want to make a run,” Garrison said. “You want to go as far as you can. To know that we’re going to end up in Columbia, playing as many games as we can play in a season, that awesome to me.”
Bolivar will take on Parkway Central (23-8) in a semifinal game at 5:10 p.m. Thursday at Mizzou Arena. The winner will face the winner of Vashon (25-3) and Kearney (21-7) for the state title at 2:40 p.m. Saturday.
“We’ve thought about this for a long time,” Hoegh said. “These guys have already won the year, but we want to win. There’s going to be four good teams. We’re one of them. We’re fortunate to be there. We feel very fortunate to be there, and we’re going to have a lot of fun next week.”
Bolivar senior Brandon Emmert scored 19 points, 15 in the first half, and pulled down 11 rebounds to help lead the Liberators, who took fourth at state two years ago.
They want different results this go-around.
“We’re going to come out and make sure we can do everything we can to not get back to that third-place game,” Garrison said. “We want to win a state championship.”
High school boys basketball Class 4 quarterfinal
Bolivar 59, Grandview 52 (OT)
At Southwest Baptist University
Bolivar-Conley Garrison 34, Brandon Emmert 19, Jack Pitts 4, James Jones 3
Grandview-Jordan Lathon 17, Tremaine Banks 2, Cartez Crook-Jones 5, Mason Taylor 7, Liashwuon Boston 4, Deandre Sorrells 14, Kamto Eze 2