“We made history tonight,” said Thomas, who tipped in a missed free throw on Dec. 21, giving Luers a 72-71 win over Bishop Dwenger.
“This is the first for Bishop Luers, and it's nice to be a part of it.”
The Knights' final play was designed for Lawrence Barnett to attack the basket, while Thomas followed him.
The other Knights would spread the floor in an attempt to thin the defense.
Barnett aggressively drove the length of the court after receiving an inbounds pass with six seconds left, but his layup went high off the backboard and fell toward the front of the rim, where Thomas' left hand awaited.
“We knew they would try to put fullcourt pressure on us, with six seconds left,” Bishop Luers coach James Blackmon said.
“The thing is, we're in the bonus, too, so they've got to be very careful on defense. We wanted to spread the floor, get the ball in Lawrence's hand, but at the same time put our shooters in position. If the defense leaves guys open, we'll have the shot. DeShaun, his thing was to follow the ball.”
South Side coach Ryan Bond said there was nothing his team could do to box out Thomas.
“We're trying to make our guys keep the ball in front of them,” he said.
“You always yell at the kids to box out, but there's nothing you can do there.”
With the Archers' defense focused on Barnett in an attempt to alter or block his shot, Thomas came flying in behind them.
“I'm just playing hard, and that's what I've got to do,” Thomas said.
“Once you do that, it all comes to you.”
His epic score and rebound capped a 20-point, 15-rebound effort in a game that he faced double and triple teams and other teammates had to step up.
Barnett scored 11 points and Evan Blackmon scored 15.
Luers held a significant 34-23 rebound advantage and forced South Side into 20 turnovers.
“In the first game we played them, we played all right, but we didn't play Luers basketball,” Barnett said about the Knights 58-56 loss.
“We stepped it up on ‘D' tonight. If it wasn't for our defense, we wouldn't have won this game. We played hard ‘D' all of the game.”
South Side trailed by seven points early in the third quarter, but worked its way back into the game, thanks to a balanced scoring attack that totaled four players in double figures for the game.
The Archers held a 59-57 lead with under two minutes remaining, but Thomas scored on an offensive rebound putback after his first shot was blocked.
With 1:04 left in the game, South Side planned to hold the ball for a late shot, but with 19 seconds to go, Barnett swiped an errant pass, took in the length of the court for a layup and gave the Knights a 61-59 lead.
South Side's Derek Evans responded by dashing through the lane and hitting a layup to tie the game with 12 seconds left.
Blackmon called a timeout with six seconds left to draw up the final play.