HOT SPRINGS — Wyatt Spires gave his grandfather a gift of rebound for his birthday.
His 21st rebound came with three seconds left in the 1A boys championship game Saturday, clinching Guy-Perkins' 71-66 victory over Izard County and back-to-back state titles.
Along the sideline, coach John Hutchcraft, gave a high fist pump and a proud-granddad type of smile.
It was the exclamation point on a storybook ending for Hutchcraft, who is retiring after 42 seasons, 11 state championships and 10 runner-ups coaching both boys and girls (six boys titles, five girls).
The farewell game couldn't have had a more perfect script.
Hutchcraft closed his career and capped a weekend of 14 title games with another state championship.
The final triumph came on his 65th birthday.
It occurred with Spires, a 6-5 post with nose tackle build, playing a starring role with 16 points and 21 rebounds.
"They (the players) worked hard for me.," he said. "They knew it was my birthday, state championship. They knew it was the last game of my career and I was 10-10, 10 runner-ups 10 state championships."
No. 11 with the rich cream topping on the cake.
"They let me go out as a winner but if we would've lost, we played like winners," he said. "We beat a good young team that will surely be back here the next few years."
Spires dominance in the paint continued a family business. Hutchcraft is still one of the leading rebounders in UCA history.
"In the state tournament games, he had three or four games with 20-plus rebounds," Hutchcraft said. "I've tried to tell him all year how important those rebounds are. He sees now we are where we're at because of those rebounds. Being my grandson makes it that much more special."
Spires, choking back tears of accomplishment, added, "If I can't shoot, I know those other guys (his teammates) can. I might as well rebound and get the ball back to them."
"I've watched Guy-Perkins and I hadn't seen that from him (Spires)," Izard County coach Kyle McCandis said. "I knew he had potential for a game like that. He used his size and body. He's just a big kid … uh, big man."
Guard Carson Petrucelli, a Conway High transfer, made seven of eight free throws in the final 1:03 (three one-and-ones in a row) to give the Thunderbirds a slight cushion. Petrucelli, voted the tournament MVP, gave Guy the lead for good (61-59) with a lane shot followed by a breakaway layup with 3:40 left.
Guard Brooks Tipton made two free throws for the final margin.
"All three three of these guards (Petrucelli, Tipton and Trey Minton) — which one do we want to go to the line? Whichever one has the basketball. Get ahead, make them foul us, make the free throws. That's our game. If we get beat, it will will be at the free-throw line."
The Thunderbirds hit 14 of of 20 free throws compared with seven of eight for Izard County. Guy had a 34-16 edge in points in the paint.
After the game, the Guy players led their supporters in singing "Happy Birthday" in the celebration at Bank of the Ozarks Arena. Hutchcraft wiped his eyes. On his players' urging, he took the championship trophy and held it high.
The cleanup crew waited with patience for their shut-down duties.
"This memory has to be one of the best and they've big some big ones," Hutchcraft said. "First, ee beat a good team. I was 10-10 going in state championship games and this put me over the top. And Wyatt being here and Ashley (Nance, his daughter and Conway girls coach) being here and me and her coaching in the same state tournament ...
"I'll probably remember my best year was my last year."