The celebration spilled over to near the South Tama bench.
None of the Trojans and their faithful that packed the stands on their home court on Saturday expected it to happen to this team, in this year.
Ballard again ended the girls' basketball season of the Trojans and this one will torment STC for awhile. Emily Larkin hit a 3-pointer from the wing at the buzzer as the Bombers upset Class 3A No. 7 South Tama 45-43 in a regional semifinal matchup.
"It's tough. It's been a great four years with these seniors, all these kids," said STC head coach Nate Roberts. "I just feel bad it ended this way. We did so many good things the last few years."
The Trojans (21-3) took a six-point lead, 42-36, with 1:35 left on a basket by Madison Baier, but couldn't hold off Ballard - the same program that defeated them in the opening round of last season's state tournament.
The Bombers (17-6) got a pair of free throws to move within four, then turned a turnover into a basket by Rachel Sage to make it a two-point game.
Kaleigh Sieck made 1-of-2 at the line with 31 seconds remaining for a 43-40 margin and Ballard had a quick answer with a layup by Makenzie Ihle.
With 20 seconds left, STC went for a long inbounds pass to Baier, who was called for a foul going after the ball near halfcourt. It was a play that a dejected Roberts was playing over and over in his mind after the game.
"To go that long, four years, you build and you build," Roberts said, "and the girls are in a position to win the game. We should have just got the ball inbounds and that's my bad. I'm man enough to take that on my shoulders."
"We get it inbounds and they would have had to foul us and made it a free throw game at that point," he added. "That's on me. The girls battled their butts off."
Ballard worked the ball around the perimeter for a last shot and Larkin found an open look from the wing, well behind the arc, with time running out.
"Disbelief. A 25-footer to win the game and I just had a feeling it was going in," Roberts said.
Larkin's only points of the game set off the celebration and sent the Bombers into Tuesday's regional final against New Hampton in Parkersburg.
"We came down and ran what we wanted to run," said Ballard head coach Kelly Anderson. "We kind of pushed it a little bit and were running out of time. It got kicked back out to Emily and Emily is capable of doing that. She's a good person to have the ball in her hands for a last-second shot."
The senior Baier finished with 12 points to lead the Trojans. Juniors Sieck and Jade Rohach finished with 11 points apiece.