GREENFIELD — The last time the East Union boys basketball team defeated Nodaway Valley, not a single member of either team had been born.
How far back exactly that goes could not be traced on short notice, but multiple people connected to Nodaway Valley and East Union confirmed as much Thursday.
The Wolverines' two wins over the Eagles this season had come by a total of four points.
So when Beau Weinheimer's 70-foot heave nicked the bottom of the net, the Eagle fans and players in attendance briefly let out a sigh of relief before they were sent into jubilation, celebrating a 56-55 win Thursday in Class 1A District 13 play.
Fouled on a drive with 2.6 seconds remaining, East Union's Mason Gossman hit a free throw and missed the second to give East Union the 56-55 lead.
That was followed by Weinheimer's near miracle.
“Frankly when Weinheimer let go of that last one there was a pit in my stomach," East Union coach Matt Brown said.
East Union's win sets up a date with Grand View Christian in Greenfield on Tuesday, at 8 p.m. Grand View Christian is there courtesy of a 92-44 win over Iowa Christian Academy.
East Union's win Thursday over Nodaway Valley, a first for Brown and his Eagle players, was incredibly satisfying.
“Our coach wanted it. Our fans wanted it. It’s just a big W," East Union's Casey Walter said.
Trailing 33-19 going into half and with Nodaway Valley playing better in nearly all aspects of the game, Brown saw no reason to give a rah-rah speech.
“I’ve had this senior class since the sixth grade," Brown said. "I told them that frankly they’ve heard everything I’ve had to say more than once. At this stage, they’ve just got to go out and get it, and they did.”
Spencer Lamb and Dallas Kreager led the Wolverine offensive attack with a combined 26 points in the first half.
The Wolverines benefitted from the solid play of Tyler Vandewater and Ryan Baudler in the second half, but the East Union defense did enough to keep the Nodaway Valley offense in check.
That included the play of defensive standout Walter and Gossman, the latter of whom picked up his fourth foul in the third quarter.
"I knew I had to be careful on defense, keep my hands up and that’s what I did," Gossman said. "I knew the team was counting on me to keep it going."
Walter, who firmly stated that the intensity of the practices leading up to this game helped make the difference, basked in the praise of Nodaway Valley coach Darrell Burmeister.
“I’ve got compliments from Burmeister saying I was one of the better defenders so I gotta live up to that," Walter said.
Kyle Campbell was strong on the boards and Trevor Jones made the types of hustle plays that don't show up in the stat sheets. The experience of East Union shined through.
Kreager scored the last seven points of the third quarter for the Wolverines.
After Kreager's run, Campbell collected a steal and converted it into a layup to make the score 46-36 and then hit a 3-pointer in the waning moments of the third to run the score to 46-39 heading to the fourth.
Walter, Gossman and Nixon began to will the Eagles back into it.
Five straight points for Nixon made the score 49-48 in favor of the Wolverines.
Lamb responded to Nixon's last basket with a driving deuce of his own.
In the following moments, two missed shots ended in the hands of Jones for a followup to make it just a one-point lead for Nodaway Valley once again.
The two teams traded several more baskets before a missed shot and a foul by Lamb sent Mason Gossman to the free throw line, where he made both free throws to tie the game with 55 seconds remaining.
Out of the timeout, Nodaway Valley's Spencer Thomspon turned the ball over with 33 seconds left, and East Union called a timeout with 27 seconds on the clock.
After passing the ball around and attempting to isolate Gossman, the senior found his way to the paint and earned the free throws that proved to be the difference.
Seniors Kreager, Baudler and Weinheimer played their last game for the Wolverines.
“I’ve been waiting for this senior year for a long time," Kreager said. "Beau (Weinheimer) and I, we’ve played together since we were in middle school and it was just a great time.”
Kreager shared plenty of heart-felt hugs and shed more than a few tears after.
“You work hard for two of three years and you finally get to start. It’s your time. You take it for what it is.”
EU (55) — Totals — 19 14-22 56. Scoring — Mason Gossman 17, Gabe Nixon 16, Casey Walter 11, Kyle Campbelll 5, Trevor Jones 4, Ryan Collins 3. 3-point goals — 4 (Walter 3, Campbell 1). Team fouls — 10. Fouled out — None. Technical fouls —None.
NV (56) — Totals — 21 3-5 55. Scoring — Dallas Kreager 21, Spencer Lamb 15, Spencer Thompson 9, Ryan Baudler 6, Tyler Vandewater 4. 3-point goals — 8 (Kreager 5, Lamb 2, Thompson 1). Rebounds — 24 (Lamb 7, Kreager 6). Assists — 15 (Weinheimer 7, Thompson 3). Steals — 4, T Team fouls — 19. Fouled out — None.
EU (55) — 13 6 17 20
NV (56) — 13 20 13 9