STOW — Cale Marconi and Jack Wilson had many conversations in the last handful of days.

One topic was particularly intriguing for the two teenagers.

“Jack and I have been talking about it all week in practice,” Marconi said.

And that was?

“Hitting game-winning shots,” he said.

Those discussions turned out to be eerily prophetic. As for the rest of the members of the Stow basketball team, such dialogue between those two apparent soothsayers couldn’t have been more beautiful.

Host Stow has bragging rights in a battle of the Bulldogs after earning a dramatic 55-53 victory over Canton McKinley on Saturday at James G. Tyree Gymnasium.

Stow (5-3) ran a play that looked exactly like the visions Marconi and Wilson had painted in their heads.

First, the ball fell into the hands of Stow’s top offensive threat, Evan Bainbridge, a 6-foot-10 senior forward who got the rebound after McKinley missed the front end of a one-and-one with 12.7 seconds left.

Trailing 53-52, Stow decided against a timeout and pushed the ball up the court.

With the clock running down, Bainbridge saw Marconi in the corner. He fired it to the 5-foot-8 guard and Marconi buried a 3-pointer to give Stow a 55-53 lead with 2.3 seconds remaining.

“Everybody got crazy,” Marconi said. “Coach Close had trust in me; all of my teammates had trust in me. They trusted me to shoot the shot and I shot it.”

McKinley still had a chance to tie it or win it. but had to go the length of the court to do so.

Although McKinley was able to get a good look from 3-point range on the left side, sophomore guard Kobe Johnson’s shot wound up getting stuck in the side of the iron and did not come down.

Stow coach Dave Close explained why he decided not to call a timeout.

“I wanted our kids to kind of be aggressive and not let them load up on a set,” Close said. “It worked out this time.”

Stow showed stellar ball movement throughout the game and made it mandatory to feed as many players as possible.

“It was a beauty in that this was our best team game by a mile,” Close said. “The fact that Cale hits the game-winner puts an exclamation point on it. It’s not the guy you expect to take the game-winning shot.”

Stow led by as many as seven (22-15) early in the second quarter, but the game was in doubt until Johnson’s final heave struck the rim.

McKinley tried to push the pace early but Stow battled to keep up.

“We can’t run with people that do it night in and night out,” Close said. “We were close to running out of gas a couple of times. I was worried about our pace."

Senior guard Bryce Harvey led Stow with a game-high 16 points and Wilson, a senior guard, scored 14 points. Bainbridge added 10 points.

Six-foot-6 sophomore post player Brett Walker led McKinley with 15 points and Johnson contributed 12 points.

Marconi, who finished with six points, has become a regular in Stow’s lineup in recent weeks. But it’s safe to say no one expected the sophomore to be the choice to shoot the biggest shot.

“It feels crazy,” Marconi said. “I’m kind of shocked still. I can’t believe that it went in.”