What St. Cloud Tech hoped would be the winning basket was designed to go in the corner to Darian Washington, who would sink a field goal, probably as time expired.
James Kaczor was supposed to bring the ball up the court and find Washington, who was looping around the basket.
Kaczor had another idea, however.
He drained a 26-footer as time expired to lift Tech to a 48-45 win over St. Cloud Apollo on Tuesday night at Tech.
“Time was running down and I just let her fly,” Kaczor said.
Tech head coach Mike Trewick confirmed the play that he drew up with 4.7 seconds left. He also confirmed that his assistant, Gregg Martig, told him what Kaczor said as he went back out to the court.
“I’m going to win it.”
Kaczor, a 6-foot-1 sophomore guard, is from the long line of Ruth and Ron Kaczor’s kids who have matriculated from Tech.
“He’s a confident kid,” Trewick said. “And he should be.
“He’s got some skills and he’s learning. We keep forgetting that he and Brevyn (Spann-Ford) are only sophomores. It seems like they’ve been playing a while. James is who we trust with the ball at the end of the game.”
It was Tech’s second straight Central Lakes Conference win. The Tigers (2-1 CLC, 4-2 overall) led 29-18 at halftime and through most of the second half.
Apollo (1-2, 2-2), however, stayed close. The Eagles closed a 39-31 gap to 41-40 with 3:07 to go after an 18-footer by Robson Omar. After Spann-Ford drove the lane to put Tech up 43-40 with 2:18 to go; Omar was at it again.
He nailed a three-pointer on a nice pass from Ben Giese to make it 43-43 with 1:59 left.
Tech took back the lead at 1:15. Trevor Koenig, the 6-foot-10 junior center, did a spin move in the lane to score his 18th and 19th points and make it Tigers 45, Eagles 43.
“That was pretty thrilling,” Koenig said. “That was up there, one of the most exciting games I’ve played.”
Apollo tied it up with 27.2 seconds left. Novacinski scored inside while heavily guarded to make it 45-45.
Tech turned it over with 27.2 seconds left. Apollo then turned it over with 4.7 seconds to go.
Then came Kaczor’s big moment.
“That was clutch,” Koenig said.
It was also the third straight conference game decided in the last second for Apollo. The Eagles lost to Brainerd last week on a last-second shot. Novacinski then hit a last-second shot to beat Alexandria on Friday. Then came Tech’s game.
“I’m very happy with how we played in the second half,” Apollo head coach Dean Kesler said. “I thought our guys showed a lot of character.”
Omar, the 5-8 senior guard, led the way with 16 points. Kesler was encouraged by how well his squad played despite Novacinski (nine points) and Cold Johnson (three points), his top two scorers, being held down by Tech’s switching zone defenses.
“I tell you what,” Kesler said. “I really like our basketball team this year.
“We play together. We get out and defend you and we work hard.”
They play host to Willmar on Friday.
Trewick’s not too unhappy with his squad, either.
“We made the plays when we needed to,” Trewick said.
The Tigers play Friday at Rocori.
APOLLO (45) — Cole Johnson 3 (5 rebounds), Robson Omar 16, Ethan Novacinski 9 (5 rebounds), Ben Giese 4 (5 rebounds), Luke Dunsmoor 0, Matt Thuok 0, Michael Tiede 3, Dylan Benner 5 (3 assists), Dauryce Taylor 2, Clayton Hoeper 3. Totals: FG 16, FT 5-12, REB 32, ASST 8, TO 13, ST 4, PF 17.
TECH (48) — Brevyn Spann-Ford 11 (6 rebounds), Max Martig 0 (5 rebounds), James Kaczor 8 (4 assists, 2 steals), Trevor Koenig 19 (5 rebounds), Chris Backes 1 (4 assists), Jack Mussman 7 (5 rebounds), Brady Underwood 0, Kail Lindgren 0, Darian Washington 2 (2 steals). Totals: FG 19, FT 9-18, REB 37, ASST 13, TO 11, ST 7, PF 14.
Halftime score: Tech 29, Apollo 18.
Follow Tom Elliott on Twitter @sctimestom or call 259-3661