RICHMOND — Betsy Layne, making the most of its first appearance in the boys' Touchstone Energy All "A" Classic, outlasted DeSales 44-41 in Sunday afternoon's finals in Eastern Kentucky's McBrayer Arena.
Nathan Martin hit a floating one-hander in the lane to give the Bobcats a 43-41 lead with 22 seconds left.
That proved to be the game-winner.
DeSales' Brandon Brooks, a three-point terror throughout the week, misfired from the left wing with three seconds left.
After Betsy Layne's Derek Tackett added a free throw with sixth-tenths of a second left, the throng of blue-clad Bobcat fans — "It seemed like there were 20 million of 'em," Martin quipped — erupted in loud cheers.
The players celebrated by piling on one another in a happy heap at midcourt.
The small-school crown is the first state title for Floyd County since Prestonsburg won the state baseball championship in 1948.
Betsy Layne Coach William Newsome Jr. said his players realized the history they were making.
"Before the game, they said, 'Coach, that's gonna be part of our legacy. We're gonna win it for Floyd County.'
"Our first time in the All 'A' and we win it. It doesn't get any better than that."
Shelby Valley came out of the 15th Region to win the last two All "A" titles (and the Sweet Sixteen last year).
Betsy Layne lost to the Wildcats in a close region finals last winter, and it used that as inspiration when it got to Richmond this year.
"We knew we could win it because of them," Martin said.
It wasn't easy. The Bobcats had to come from behind in two of the first three rounds, and they faced another challenge against DeSales.
After Betsy Layne ended the first half with a 20-1 run to take a 25-11 lead to the locker room, DeSales counterpunched with an 18-1 blitz to start the second half.
It was nip-and-tuck the rest of the way, but Betsy Layne found a way to win.
"That's the mark of a good team, fighting through adversity," Newsome said. "These kids don't quit. That's the heart of a lion."
Martin took exception to his coach's analogy.
"A bobcat might have a smaller body, but who said it can't have a bigger heart," he said. "Nobody expected us to come down here and win.
"This is unbelievable. It's something I can tell my kids and my grandkids."
Martin, the tournament MVP, led Betsy Layne with 13 points. Casey Adkins had 11 points and six rebounds. Tackett and Andrew Roberts combined for 16 points, nine rebounds and six assists.
DeSales, which was runner-up to Shelby Valley last year, was led by Brooks' 11 points and Evan Bingham's 10 points and five rebounds.
"We lost our composure in the first half and put ourselves in that position to have to dig back," DeSales Coach John Mingus said.
"But I'm proud of the way we fought back and showed a lot of character."
BETSY LAYNE (18-5) — Martin 5-14 1-3 13, Adkins 5-8 1-3 11, Maldanado 1-1 0-0 2, Tackett 2-3 3-7 8, Roberts 3-5 2-4 8, Hamilton 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 17-32 7-17 44.
DESALES (11-14) — Brooks 3-10 2-4 11, Bingham 5-9 0-0 10, Sliter 3-8 2-3 8, Maynard 3-9 0-1 8, Odle 1-8 0-0 3, Blackwell 0-1 1-2 1, Harlow 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 15-46 5-10 41.
Betsy Layne 13 12 6 13—44
DeSales 8 3 18 12—41
All-tournament: Nathan Martin (MVP), Andrew Roberts, Derek Tackett, Casey Adkins of Betsy Layne; Brandon Brooks, Corbin Maynard of DeSales; Jake Giesler, Brady Highthcew of Newport Central Catholic; Tevin Raines, Jacody Taylor of Danville; Aaron Rayburn of West Carter; Taylor Barnette of Lexington Christian; Matt McGowan of University Heights.