DES MOINES - Before he leapt, before he spun, before he even crossed the timeline, Kelly Madison, Jr. had no doubt.
He was going to put Des Moines Hoover into the Class 4A title game.
The senior guard delivered an off-balanced jumper that found nothing but net with under 2 seconds remaining to send the Huskies past Ankeny, 49-47, on Thursday afternoon inside Wells Fargo Arena and into today's championship round.
"I just smiled the whole way up the court," said Madison, Jr., who finished the day with 15 points. "I knew it was going to go in."
His confidence derived from a drill the second-seeded Huskies (23-2) use in practice called '35 seconds,' in which the defense has to hold the offense for as long as the drill's namesake. Madison, Jr. is "pretty clutch in that."
His coach had plenty of confidence in him, too, not calling a timeout after Ankeny's Grant Lang tied things at 47 with 17 seconds left on the clock.
Instead, Huskies head coach Courtney Henderson let Madison, Jr. create, allowing the 6-foot-3 guard to dribble past halfcourt, spin to the right elbow and drill an off-balanced shot while getting fouled in the process.
"At that point, it's in one of our best players' hands and we just gave him an opportunity to make a play. And fortunately it fell for us," said Henderson.
"He's been composed throughout the whole course of the year, so I didn't think to call a timeout at all."
Madison, Jr. missed the ensuing free throw, but Ankeny's full-court prayer landed on deaf ears.
Madison, Jr.'s late heroics stole the show, but it was Hoover's standard lock-down defense, which had allowed just two teams to break 40 points in its last 19 contests, that kept the Huskies ahead all evening.
The third-seed Hawks (21-4) shot 38 percent from the floor and had 14 turnovers in their lowest-scoring game of the season.
"(Hoover's) defense has been fabulous all year, and they played well again tonight," said Ankeny head coach John Petersen. "It was one of those games where you need to put the ball in the hole.
"We shot 38 percent for the game, that's just not quite good enough to win down here."
The Hawks took their first lead since the first quarter on Connor Schabel's 3-pointer a minute and a half into the third quarter, but then failed to register another point in the frame, going over 7 minutes without scoring until Trevor Egli's three-point play early in the fourth quarter.
Schabel finished with 16 points for Ankeny while Bryan Sumner and Lang added 11 apiece.
The Huskies weren't able to take full advantage, however, managing just two field goals during Ankeny's drought, taking a six-point edge into the final 8 minutes.
Hoover was also playing without its starting point guard, Dwight Sistrunk, who suffered a concussion in practice.
He's questionable for tonight's championship game at 8:05 p.m. with No. 1 Linn Mar, which stands undefeated at 25-0
"We knew it was going to be challenge for us," said Henderson of playing without Sistrunk. "Other guys stepped up, and that's what it takes."
Ontier Brown had 15 points and eight rebounds for the Huskies and Kourtlin Jackson chipped in 12 points and six boards.
But none stepped up bigger than Madison, Jr. who assumed the point guard role and then the one of hero.
"He's carried us all year offensively," said Henderson, "and he did a good job tonight."