Neither team refused to give in and it took three overtimes for a winner to be determined.
In the end, USC prevailed for a 66-57 triumph.
Entering the third overtime, USC’s Kyle Bauman took over, scoring eight of his team’s 10 points to help gain the separation needed to win the Blue Earth Area Holiday Tournament.
Four of Bauman’s eight points in the deciding session came on free throws.
“He (Bauman) has really improved upon that part of his game since the beginning of the season,” USC head coach Robert Stevermer says. “To his credit, he has gotten in the gym and shot hundreds of free throws and figured out his stroke.”
Sinking free throws helped power the 6-foot-8 force to a game-high 30 points.
The tumultuous affair between the two cross-county foes featured more drama than a daytime soap opera with eight ties and 13 lead changes taking place during the 48 minute contest.
Both teams had multiple opportunities to win the game in regulation or the first two overtimes, but failed to do so.
Edge of your seat action started with under a minute to go in regulation. The Bucs possessed a 51-44 lead with 45 seconds left after a beautiful pass from Brady Anderson set up an Isaac Darrington lay up. The Rebels answered right back, however, with a monster three from Chris Melby to close within four.
BEA’s Sam Lee was fouled on the next possession and made one of two free throws to put the Bucs up by five with 31 seconds remaining.
“At that time, we just wanted to get steals or fouls and stay in the present,” Stevermer says. “On offense we wanted to stay aggressive and we hit some big shots to get to a one possession game.”
After Lee’s free throw, Bauman tipped in a missed three-point attempt and Trey Allis sunk a three from the left corner on back-to-back possessions to tie the game up at 52 with three seconds left on the clock.
“The kids played tremendously hard, but missed some opportunities to seal it up,” BEA head coach Gary Holmseth says. “You can’t pinpoint any one shot to determine wins or losses. Give USC a tremendous amount of credit for making big shots.”
After a BEA turnover with .6 seconds left, USC had their own opportunity to win the game, but a failed lob to Bauman was deflected, sending the game into overtime.
The first extra session was a defensive battle with both teams managing only two points. USC struck first when Allis pump faked, got a defender in the air and calmly made a layup with one and a half minutes to go.
A flurry of possessions took place without any points to show for it until BEA’s Isaac Darrington banked in a tying shot with 13 seconds to go.
BEA held tough on defense for the remainder of the first overtime and forced a second extra period.
On USC’s first possession in the second overtime, Bauman drove baseline and drew a foul. He sank both free throws giving USC a 56-54 edge at the 3:10 mark.
BEA once again charged back late in the second overtime. Steven Plocker spun to his left and banked in the game tying layup with 30 seconds to go.
Once again, BEA’s defense pulled through, stopping USC and forcing a third overtime.
In the third session, USC finally sealed the hard fought victory.
Bauman’s 30 points paced USC while teammates Melby and Allis scored 10 and 9 points respectively.
BEA was led by a smooth shooting Dallas Barslou who poured in 22 points. The long-range bomber rained in five three-pointers for the Bucs.
Isaac Darrington scored 11, Brady Anderson chipped in 9 – all of which came in the second half and Brandyn Olsen put in eight to round out the leading scorers for the Bucs.
BEA will next play Martin County West Jan. 3.
USC will resume action after the holiday break against Albert Lea on the same night.
The rematch between the two teams will take place Feb. 6 at BEA High School.