An air ball at the buzzer was a perfect representation of the day the Minot High boys basketball team had shooting on Friday.
Less than 24 hours after posting 82 points their highest total in a losing effort the Magicians struggled to score half of that output.
Minot shot 25.9 percent, converted just 14 field goals, in a 62-44 loss to Bismarck in a Class A state tournament consolation game at the Minot Municipal Auditorium. The loss ends Minot's season at 16-8 and was just the second time this season the Magicians had gone winless in consecutive games.
"We played hard for the most part," Minot coach Dean Winczewski said. "If you don't make baskets, you're not going to have a lot of opportunities. Sometimes the ball just doesn't go in."
No Magician shot 50 percent from the field. Senior forward Colter Hustad had the best day from the field for Minot, hitting 5 of 12 shots. Hustad recorded 11 points in his final game while dealing with foul trouble in the second half.
"You never want it to end like that," Hustad said. "We couldn't hit shots and I guess that's what happens when you can't hit shots. When you don't make shots you get frustrated and you keep shooting and they don't go in. It doesn't end well."
Despite Bismarck (17-7) shooting at a clip 11-percent higher in the first half, Minot only trailed 27-25 at the break. The Magicians scored eight of the game's opening 10 points, but struggled from there.
The Demons pulled even at 11 on a bucket by Jon Tharaldsen with 8:01 left in the first half. Two of Taylor Schafer's 12 first-half points put Bismarck in front for the first time at 16-15 with 5:40 left. A trey by Minot junior guard Nick Soltis gave the Magicians their final lead of the game with 20 seconds left in the half, but was quickly answered by Bismarck's James Iron Eyes.
"You never know how they will play in those situations," Bismarck coach Steve Miller said of playing in a consolation game. "I thought we brought some pretty good defensive intensity pretty much the whole game. The other thing is we passed the ball a lot better today."
The Magicians hit four shots and were outrebounded 25-9 in the second half. With Minot's inability to score, coupled Bismarck's second and third chances on the offensive end, the Magicians found themselves in a 43-33 hole with 8:47 left. The Demons had nine offensive rebounds in the second half compared to two in the first.
"We made an emphasis on rebounding because Minot has really good athletes and they are a good rebounding team," Miller said. "We needed to rebound the ball today if we were going to win."
Minot was forced to play most of the final 18 minutes without the 6-foot-5 Hustad, who picked up his third foul with 15:06 left and his fourth seven minutes later.
The Magicians got as close as eight before Bismarck closed the game on a 13-3 run, ending Minot's season.
"We took a major step forward in our program and you have to give the seniors credit for that," Winczewski said. "They lined up and made plays and were great leaders. There isn't a moment this season I won't look back on fondly. I know it didn't end the way we wanted, but it is what it is."
Sophomore forward Braydon Lund led the Magicians with 13 points and 10 rebounds. Schafer netted a game-high 23 points for the Demons, who play for fifth place against Wahpeton today at 11:30 a.m. at the MSU Dome.
Mike Kraft covers high school athletics and hockey. Follow him on Twitter @MKraft23_MDN.