BUHL — Buhl’s Kade Crossland was the only player on the court with time expired in the first round of the 3A state tournament against Sugar-Salem — down two in double overtime.
Like a castaway stranded on a tiny island in the middle of the ocean, how the Times-News large school player of the year got there was borderline miraculous, fouled on a three-quarter-court heave. Hundreds vicariously staring down at the senior, sounds bouncing around the Meridian gym which would tip off a basketball illiterate that something surreal was happening.
Crossland walked to the line, staying Kade Crossland: expressionless. With three free-throws, Crossland would either lose, tie or win the game for Buhl.
After missing the first and eliminating a chance at immediate victory, Crossland made the next two, the third barely eking over the rim. The Indians would win in triple overtime. Crossland finished with 25.
“It took forever for that ball to drop,” Crossland said of the third free throw. “I just think about that first game and if we should have won that game. The fact that we were even in the championship game and ended up winning, it was a lot of luck.”
It was a lot of Crossland, too. Naturally, two days later, the power forward made the go-ahead 3-point shot to lead Buhl to its first state championship since 1979.
“Some people who get that shot, miss that shot, and end their career on a miss,” said a reflective Crossland.
He scored 25 points, outplaying Homedale’s 6-foot-6 Lane Sale, a Weber State football signee. His first quarter buckets against the long and springy Sale helped pull Buhl out of an 11-0 hole.
“Whenever I can play against the others team’s best guy, I feel like I play with a little more fire,” said Crossland, who is looking to sign at a school where he can play both golf and basketball.
Perhaps the best player in the SCIC the last three years, Crossland showed he was capable of being the best player on the court against the best team in 3A last year, nearly beating the eventual state champions with a monster game in the first round (Buhl lost to Snake River 38-37, and there was a disputed no-call on Crossland to end the game).
But it wasn’t until 2014 that Kade Crossland got the help — thanks to the maturation of sophomores, brother Kasey Crossland, Hayden Eckert and Michael Lively — allowing him to play different roles in the Indians offense. He scored 28 points without the benefit of a 3-pointer in the district championship win against Filer, also hauling in 13 rebounds.
“We had more experience with Kasey and Hayden,” Crossland said. “I felt like I was the senior, the old guy out there. Going to state last year helped me a lot. It was a great way to end my career. We all worked together, our coaches got together and we got it done in the end.”