It’s a scenario that plays itself out in driveways, playgrounds and gymnasiums all over the country every day of the year.

No time left on the clock. A foul is called. A hero walks to the foul line to be the win the game for his team.

Outside of those fantasies in driveways, playgrounds and gyms, you rarely see it actually happen at the end of a real game. As a matter of fact, I can’t remember untimed free throws deciding a game I was broadcasting since I started doing Tiger boys’ basketball in 2002 and the girls since 1991.

But there I was—Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis—for Saturday’s boys’ state basketball finals.

The first game turned out to be the best game, as Lafayette Central Catholic and North Daviess battled for the 1A title.

North Daviess was in control of the game for most of the second half, but became very passive on offense and allowed the Knights back into the game in the final minutes of regulation.

Overtime was needed, and then another.

Again, North Daviess was poised to win the game with free throws, but couldn’t put the game away.

Lafayette Central Catholic had one last chance.

ND did the unthinkable—they fouled an LCC player shooting a potentially-game-tying three point basket just before the buzzer.

By rule, that meant three free throws with no time left on the clock.

Senior Clark Barrett would shoot to extend his team’s season by at least four more minutes.

Immediately after the whistle sounded, his teammates rushed to him to hug him and give him words of encouragement. They knew the situation was dire—he was only a 53-percent free throw shooter for the season.

But he was the only chance they had left.

They poured onto him every ounce of confidence they had inside them. Anything and everything they could think of to make him walk to that line and make all three shots.

And then, like watching a bomb disposal expert, one by one his friends peeled back and helplessly watched as Barrett walked to the free throw line at the north end of the arena, hoping he’d clip the correct wires in the right sequence to save the day.

He stood there and stared at the rim and backboard, all by himself. The lane lines were empty to his left and his right. Only the referee who would bounce the ball to him was nearby. In the greatest of ironies, he was all alone there, except that the entire state of Indiana was watching his every breath and muscle movement.

He got the ball, went through his routine and shot it toward the basket. It hit the back of the rim, then the front of the rim. Some of the North Daviess players started to raise their arms in victory, but as they did the ball popped back against the top of the backboard and down through the net.

Thousands of fans, some with cheering interest and many others who were just witnessing the drama of the moment, gasped in amazement.

That’s one—two more to make.  

ND called timeout.

For 60 more seconds, this 18 year old was made to walk around with only his own thoughts in his head, hoping to duplicate the feat he had just accomplished two more times.

He would go on to admit afterward "I will always be confident in myself, but obviously that’s probably one of the hardest situations I’ve ever been put in."

He was ushered back to the court for the second free throw, and as he let it fly he knew it didn’t look right. His shot bounded off the rim and harmlessly to the wooden floor.

The game was over…and so was the dream scenario.

It had turned into a nightmare.

He turned to look at his team’s bench. They collectively stared at him and he at them. Reality is harsh that way, sometimes.

One-by-one they filed up to him and hugged him, and eventually his heart broke and the contents came running from his eyes like waterfalls of grief.

The traditional handshake like was more like a visitation line. The ND players all stopped to hug him and show their respect. In their hearts, they probably were glad that cup had not been passed to them to take.

Clark Barrett’s high school career ended with the weight of the sports world caving in around him, but it did not crush him. He handled it like we would all hope to. He answered every question. He took every hug and handshake. He looked people square in the eye when they talked to him.

Yes, his last memory of playing high school basketball will be that of his own personal failure on the brightest-possible stage. He will never forget that, nor will anyone else. But be clear…he did not fail!

I have great confidence, based on the way he handled what happened Saturday, that he never will.