Despite showing up nearly two hours before tip off Monday morning in the opening round of the Wheeling Hardwood Classic, Prospect still needed an alarm clock.
The buzzer went off three times, and the Knights ultimately answered the bell, knocking off a stout Maine West team 64-62 to advance to Thursday's 3:45 p.m. quarterfinal game with Glenbrook South.
Prospect (6-4) answered its first buzzer when Kyle Beyak hit and off-balance shot from half court as time expired. The shot banked hard off the backboard and bounced through by net as the Knights, who trailed by as many as 15 in the first half, cut the margin to just 5 points.
"There was about three seconds left and we were struggling to get in in," explained Beyak, who finished with 14 points, including four 3-pointers. " I kind of did a little weave around. I hit halfcourt and made a couple of dribbles there. I juts let it fly. I didn't even call backboard."
That shot gave Prospect momentum into the second half. But it didn't even come close to be the most spectacular shot of the game. That belonged to Prospect reserve Grant Miller, who had entered the game with just 20 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
Prospect had just completed an 11-0 run to lead 48-45 with 20 seconds left in the third quarter. In the closing seconds of period, Maine West's Anthony Dones (12 points) hit a basket with two seconds left.
The ball was quickly inbounded to Miller right in front of the Maine West bench. Miller, who was the starting catcher on the sophomore baseball team, took one dribble and then fired the ball like he was making the throw from home to second. On a perfect line who no arc, the ball threaded the basket from about 70 feet to put the Knights up 51-47.
"I have never done that before," Miller said. "That is one of the best feelings I have had in my life. I got an outlet pass and I just let it go. To see it go in, I was kind of in shock."
Despite that shot, Maine West converted its next 4 field goals to take a 55-53 with 4:20 to play on a basket by Joel Ferraren, who led the Warriors with 19 points.
Prospect responded by running of 7 unanswered points, triggered by a basket by Danny Thomas as the Knights jumped ahead 60-55 with 3:23 left.
Maine West was able to forge a tie at 60 with 1:53 on a basket by Jamal Sherman (14 points) and a 3-point play by Ferraren.
Then Thomas, who finished with a career-high 23 points, hit a layup on a feed from Beyak to make it 62-60 with 1:29 to play. After the Warriors tied it on a pair of free throws by Adam Wessell with 55.8 seconds left, Thomas put the Knights up for good on a short jumper with 19 seconds left.
Maine West went for the win when Dones attempted a 3-pointer with 4 seconds left. It hit the rim and the Warriors rebounded, but Thomas answered the final alarm by stealing the ball to preserve the victory.
"We have to figure something out," Thomas said. "This has become a theme for us. We have come out slow, and then something clicks and we pick up.
"I noticed that they were leaving lots of gaps open, and they were biting on the pump fake. I knew I could get to the rim."
Prospect, which had to rally to beat both Hersey and Elk Grove earlier this year, showed no panic when it trailed Maine West 36-21 with 1:31 left in the first half.
"We talked early about not coming out flat," Prospect coach John Camardella said. "I had them up and ready to go.
"But we have played really well from behind. It sounds crazy. I have never had a team like this. We feel very comfortable. It is not how we want to play. But I am proud of my guys."
Maine West coach John Bongiorno was also proud of the way his team responded, despite being undersized.
"I thought we rebounded very well today," said Bongiorno, who does not have a starter over 6 feet tall. "We got off to a great start. But we let our foot off the gas a bit."