Brad Feuerbacher certainly remembers what he calls the longest few seconds of his life.
But the time since has gone by quickly, and he can’t believe it was 20 years ago.
That’s when Christ the King’s 3-point shot at the buzzer banked off the backboard and rim, and landed harmlessly to the Hammons Student Center floor. It clinched one of the most improbable runs in Bass Pro Tournament of Champions history.
The Glendale Falcons of 1994 were atop the mountain.
“That was the longest few seconds of my life,” Feuerbacher said recently from Colorado, where he was vacationing. “I remember just the whole energy of Hammons Student Center for a high school tournament. I’d never felt that type of energy, enthusiasm for that crowd and team.
“When that buzzer sounds, you almost look up and see that the fans are feeling what you felt. Just thinking back of the three days of basketball and how special it was.”
Glendale’s T of C championship was impressive then, considering the field included two future National Basketball Association players and the typical gauntlet of national powerhouses on the schedule.
But now, with the 30th edition of the T of C set to begin Thursday, and the ’94 Falcons stand with only the 2005 Kickapoo Chiefs — a national power themselves that year — as the only local champions in event history.
In addition to the final play of the 55-53 game and the locals upsetting powerhouse Christ the King, there also was sweet symmetry for then-Glendale coach Mike Keltner.
Keltner and Glendale played CTK and coach Bob Oliva in the first T of C game ever in 1985, and the coaches had developed a friendship over the time and a bond between the programs.
“It was a special feeling,” Keltner said. “I know when we shook hands, Bob said, ‘I’m really happy for you, Mike.’ I said, ‘Bob, I appreciate it.’
“It was a great accomplishment.”
Paced by junior Kenny Price’s 16 points, Glendale topped Natchez (Miss.) in the first round, running what would be the Mississippi 5A state champions out of the gym with a 78-49 victory.
Up next on Friday night was St. Charles West, and then-junior Ryan Robertson, who went on to star for Roy Williams’ Kansas Jayhawks and had a short NBA career.
The Warriors would go on to win the Class 4 state championship the following season, but on semifinal Friday at Hammons, they were no match for the Falcons.
Senior Brian Grow scored 22 points in the game, including four 3-pointers.
Late in the 72-50 runaway, with the benches cleared and just seconds left, a St. Charles West player inbounded the ball in front of Keltner.
“There was a guy behind him in the stands, some fan, and he said, ‘Hey, number 20, are you ready for the clinic to be over?'” Keltner recalled. “The kid turned around and said, ‘Yep, quite a while ago.'”
The championship was a slow-starter, with Glendale leading 17-8 at halftime. The Royals, then already two-time champions, would chip away led by a future Louisiana Tech and McNeese State player, Ira Miller.
Glendale point guard Stu Stenger recalled Feuerbacher then started hitting some shots, giving his team confidence. It was just more solid basketball, just like all weekend.
Stenger said he didn’t feel like the team was doing anything too out of the ordinary for the experienced group.
“Coach said, ‘Hey, go in there, play your hardest, and just go out there and have fun,'” said Stenger, the 1994 tournament’s Most Valuable Player and now a Springfield real estate developer. “From what I can remember, we just went out there and played Glendale ball.”
Keltner said the Falcons were big enough — going mostly 6-foot-2 to 6-foot-5 throughout the lineup with skilled players across the board — but the 5-9 Stenger set the pace.
The cross country and track standout could run all day and was quick, Keltner said, and his ball-handling allowed the Falcons to take care of the ball, often the fatal flaw for local teams against national T of C powers.
“When we got to the half-court, whatever we wanted to run, we could get,” Keltner said. “And hence the MVP deal (for Stenger). If you go through that and you don’t have many turnovers, folks kind of appreciate that.”
The Falcons — who also included Justin Foley, Mike Galindo and Brian Cates as key contributors — also placed Price on the All-Tournament Team.
Price, now a high school coach at Fort Worth (Texas) Boswell, said he hopes to one day bring a team to the T of C. The 36-year-old said he would consider it a full circle circumstance for his career, which took him to the University of Colorado and professional basketball in Germany, Finland and Mexico.
“The first thing that comes to mind is, (winning the T of C) was one of the most memorable moments of my life, just winning something that as big as that, as big of a tournament that it was,” Price said. “It gives you a feeling that you’ve done something that will be remembered for a long time.”