As Caleb Jordan sat along the baseline, he was afforded a few moments to soak in the magnitude of the unfoldings after his heave toward the basket.
Kaden Archie had manned the inbound pass. Evan Marshall delivered an immovable screen. Jordan, well, he provided the most improbable shot that resulted in the most improbable outcome for a team that was once .500 through 10 District 10-5A games.
The leather basketball tickled the twine and sent No. 9 Midlothian to its first-ever 5A state basketball tournament, defeating No. 11 Lancaster, 48-45.
That moment of solitude quickly faded for Jordan, only to be replaced by the full weight of his Panther teammates in a cat-pile a few feet in front of the Midlothian bench.
All of which unfolded in just over 1.2 seconds of game time.
“I’m really at a loss for words because that is something that you dream about when you are a little kid and you countdown 3-2-1," Jordan said. "The fact that I got the chance to hit the shot, it is an amazing feeling to know that I got to hit it and let us go to state.”
“[…] We made it. That’s an amazing feeling and something that I have never felt before. This has to be the biggest moment of my life.”
FINAL. @Caleb1Jordan AT THE BUZZER!! No. 9 Midlothian 48, No. 11 Lancaster 45.
The Panthers are going to state for the first time in program history. @hoopinsider #txhshoops pic.twitter.com/C3l5anPMBV
— Travis M. Smith (@Travis5mith) March 3, 2018 Midlothian head boys' basketball coach Steve Middleton said the shot that came after (23-13) Lancaster defenders deflected two inbound passes out of bounds with under three seconds to play was "unbelievable."
"To win at the buzzer, you know, we had three out of bounds plays and I drew up three different plays and finally we got the ball underneath out of bounds," Middleton said. "The first play that I put in this year was from underneath out of bounds and it was the game winner by a kid that means that world to me in Caleb Jordan. I am probably harder on him as a point guard than anyone else but he has weathered the storm. It was the biggest shot in Midlothian history, I have to imagine.”
Archie scored nine points to in the first quarter to send the Panthers into the second quarter with a one-point advantage, 12-11.
Lancaster’s Mike Miles then scored first in the second quarter with a fast break layup and followed an Evan Marshall mid-range jumper by drilling a three-pointer after crossing a Panther over with a step-back. The Tigers eventually carried an 18-16 lead into the final 4:11 of the first half.
Zeke’ Bennett was fouled on the defensive end of the court and, with the Panthers in the bonus, knocked down both of his opportunities at the free throw line to tie the game at 18.
Lancaster took a four-point lead late in the first half, but Marshall drilled a straightaway three-pointer just before the buzzer to send the Panthers into the halftime locker room trailing by one, 24-23.
Bennett scored the first big bucket of the second half when he ripped a three-pointer through the net from the right wing with 3:11 to play. The bucket, his first from the floor, gave the Panthers a 28-26 lead.
Nyk Madison got in on the scoring action with a mid-range jumper and Archie followed with a pair of free throws in the final minute to keep the Midlothian lead at two,
31-29, as the clock ran under 30 seconds to play in the third quarter.
The Panthers held for the final shot but turned the ball over on an inbound from underneath the basket.
Lancaster's Carlos Johnson opened the fourth-quarter scoring but Bennett again answered for the Panthers from deep.
Madison then followed a Miles layup to put Midlothian back up by three, 36-33, and force a Lancaster timeout with 5:40 to play in regulation.
The Tigers quickly scored the next five points, highlighted by a Johnson three-pointer from the top of the key, to take a 38-36 lead with 4:24 to play.
Swahn Gibson then stole a Tiger pass with the Panthers applying a full-court press and got the reverse layup along the baseline to fall.
With the Panthers in the bonus, Archie drained four-straight free throws to keep the Lancaster lead at one, 43-42, as the clock dipped under 2:30.
He then pulled down a rebound on the defensive end and was fouled by Johnson, who fouled out with 2:25 to play.
Archie split the trip to the line, tying the game at 43-all.
The game remained tied — now at 45 — as the clock ran under one minute. That was when Marshall pulled down a crucial Mdiothian defensive rebound, allowing the Panthers to hold for the final shot.
With 3.4 seconds to play, a Tiger defender deflected an Archie pass out of bounds. The following two inbound passes were also off of the hands of Lancaster players.
Archie took the ball underneath for the third Panther inbound, this time with 1.2 seconds showing on the clock.
"One. One. One," Middleton called out.
The head coach was calling for the Panthers to run the first inbound play installed at the beginning of the season. It worked to perfection.
Jordan caught the Archie pass near the corner in front of the Panther bench and found nothing but cotton after he released the biggest shot in the history of Midlothian basketball.
The shot passed through the net as the buzzer sounded and with Midlothian the victors, 48-45.
Archie scored a game-high 18 points, while Marshall and Bennett each scored eight points. Madison added six points, Jordan had five, and Jon McDonald and Gibson finished with two points for the Panthers.
Miles led the Tigers with 17 points and Johnson had seven.
The first half Friday night inside the Curtis Culwell Center was a far cry from an offensive showcase between No. 5 Prosper and No. 9 Midlothian in the 5A Region II semifinals.
“We struggled at times and the second quarter was a nightmare,” Midlothian head boys’ basketball coach Steve Middleton said. “We came back hard and took the lead in the third quarter to put away a pretty good team. We had to tough out the victory at the end. I am proud of my boys for finishing.”
The Eagles carried a 23-15 lead into the half. And that soon changed.
Midlothian began the second half on a 20-5 run to take a 35-28 lead into the final two minutes of the third quarter.
Prosper fought back in the fourth quarter to tie the game at 38 with fewer than three minutes to play in regulation.
That was when Kaden Archie took over. The senior guard scored the final six points of the ballgame to clinch the 44-40 win in the Panthers’ first-ever regional semifinal appearance.
Archie led all scorers with 19 points with 10 of those coming in the second half. Fellow seniors Caleb Jordan (10), Swahn Gibson (7) and Evan Marshall (6) rounded out the Midlothian scoring.
“Our seniors led us with some fabulous basketball,” Middleton added. “They led us in some tough spots.”
Josh Davis led Prosper with 16 points and Grant Shaw scored 12. Zach Wrightsil added seven points, Kyle Jessen had three, and Jerry McElroy chipped in two. The Eagles finished the season with a 33-6 record.
The Midlothian Panthers, who entered the postseason ranked No. 9 in the TABC 5A poll and currently sit at 28-10 overall on the season, will travel to San Antonio for the 5A state championship tournament March 8-10.