DES MOINES - It just wasn't Alex Malloy's night. Until it was.
The Bishop Heelan senior delivered at the end of regulation and again in overtime to give the Crusaders a 64-63 victory over Mount Pleasant on Thursday night in a don't-dare-blink semifinal game of the Class 3A state boys' basketball tournament.
Malloy entered the final seconds of regulation with a 1-of-13 shooting line, but hit the tying basket with 1 second left and then knifed through the defense at the end of overtime to put the Crusaders (24-2) into the title game with a chance to win their third straight state championship.
"It wasn't so much that I wanted the ball because I wasn't really having my night tonight," said Malloy, "but they trusted me so I just did what I could."
"That was a huge game for us. There was so many ups and downs," he added "and our guys, we just pulled through. It was just amazing."
Malloy finished with 12 points on 3-of-15 shooting while teammate Wesley Staten added 24 points and some heroics of his own on the evening.
"We prove that we can overcome adversity once again," said Staten. "It was just amazing."
The junior transfer from Sioux City West was fouled as he hit a jumper from the free-throw line and made it a three-point play with a free throw, tying the game at 60 with 2:32 to play in the extra frame.
Both teams had chances to take the lead with a pair of attempts at the line, but David Kerian came up empty for the Crusaders and Henry Kreiger-Coble for the Panthers.
Staten put Heelan up 62-60 with 47 seconds remaining after collecting an offensive rebound and draining a jumper from the lane.
The emotion didn't take long to swing back into Mount Pleasant's corner, however, as Scott Hahn delivered a go-ahead 3-pointer with 17 seconds left on the clock.
Without taking a timeout, the Crusaders inbounded the ball and got it to Malloy, who took a pass from Kerian in the middle of the lane and hit the game-winner with 1.4 seconds remaining
"Alex did a good job of just knowing the situation and saying this time you get to the hole," said Bishop Heelan head coach Tom Betz. "I don't know how it happened. At this point, it doesn't matter. Just happy it did."
It was a night of heartbreak for the Panthers as they had the rug pulled out from under them on two occasions.
The Crusaders went up three, 51-48, on a pair of Shane Graves free throws with under 3 minutes to play in regulation, but a bucket from Kreiger-Coble, who finished with 18 points, and one free throw from Scott Hahn, who had 12 points, tied the game with under a minute to play.
Graves delivered again though, slashing through the lane to hit the go ahead basket with 44 seconds on the clock.
But Hahn came through with a three-point play, getting fouled on a layup and converting from the charity stripe to put his squad up 54-53.
Malloy missed the front end of a one-and-one but, after a Kreiger-Coble free throw, atoned as he spun through the lane and delivered the tying basket - just his second make of the night - as time expired.
"I don't care if he's one-for-33," said Betz. "If the game's on the line, I'm going to Alex Malloy."
"That's the state tournament. That's what you come down for - memories," said Betz. "Memories aren't made on some 30-point win. They're made on games like this."
The Crusaders will now meet No. 1 seed Waverly-Shell Rock (26-0), who won an overtime thriller of its own with a 50-49 win over Norwalk in its semifinal matchup.
The title game will be played Saturday at 6:05 p.m. inside Wells Fargo Arena.