Blue Earth Area and Granada-Huntley-East Chain had played 35 minutes and 56 seconds and the game still hung in the balance.
BEA was attempting to hold on to a slim, two-point margin while GHEC inbounded the ball possessing a chance to tie or win the game.
“I told the guys to switch on all screens and dive to the baseline,” BEA head coach Gary Holmseth says. “We defended the last four seconds very well.”
BEA smothered any option GHEC had on offense, forcing a very difficult shot when Dallas Barslou heavily contested the Mustang attempt to tie the game. A last ditch effort fell short of the rim, cementing a 55-53 BEA victory.
“Give them (GHEC) credit,” Holmseth says. “They played a very good game.”
The Mustangs established a 13-11 advantage midway through the first half and didn’t surrender their lead until Sam Lee connected on a foul shot to put BEA ahead 51-50.
Lee missed the second free throw, but teammate Brandyn Olsen came up with a huge steal after GHEC crossed half-court.
“We had 19 pass deflections,” Holmseth says. “It was good to see hands in the passing lanes all night.”
Olsen missed a fast break layup after the steal, but Isaac Darrington cleaned up on the boards, drawing a Mustang foul.
Darrington made both of his free throws, giving BEA a 53-50 lead with one minute and 25 seconds remaining.
GHEC couldn’t connect on the front end of a one- and-one on their next possession and were forced to send Barslou to the line with 45 seconds left.
Barslou nailed both of his shots from the charity stripe giving BEA a 55-50 lead.
With 31 seconds remaining, GHEC’s Dylan Petrowiak made things interesting when he drained a three-pointer from the top of the key, drawing the Mustangs within two points.
BEA missed their next two free throws, setting the Bucs up for their final stand of the game.
“From two-point range, we shot well,” Holmseth says. “Our defense got tougher when we needed to get tougher.”
In the first half, the Mustangs established the largest lead of the game with a 26-17 advantage, due in large part because of the shooting expertise of Dylan Celander.
“Celander ate us up in the first half,” Holmseth says. “We did a better job in the second half and held him to two points.”
The Bucs used strong rebounding and played solid defense to chip away at the Mustang lead, without the help of Sam Lee who was saddled with foul trouble.
“Sam is a key guy for our team,” Holmseth says. “It was good to see the guys play well without him.”
Barslou led the Bucs with 15 points, including two crucial free throws down the stretch.
Brady Anderson dropped in 14 points, knocking down crucial jump shots to keep the Bucs close in the first half.
Olsen was the last Buc scoring in double figures, finishing with 12. He connected on five two-point field goals during the second half to help spur the BEA comeback.
BEA’s victory was the first of the season and moved their record to 1-5 overall.
The win punched BEA’s ticket to the Holiday Tournament final against USC.
USC 69, JCC 50
The Rebels left little doubt about who would face BEA for the championship during the tournament’s first game.
USC cruised to a 69-50 win over last year’s tournament champion, Jackson County Central.
The Rebels displayed a dominating performance outscoring the Huskies by 10 points in the first half and nine in the second.
USC took in to intermission a 38-28 advantage and came back strong in the second half, outscoring JCC 31-22.
The dynamic duo of Kyle Bauman and Steve Voigt proved to be the Rebels most dangerous options on offense.
Bauman poured in a game-high 25 and Voigt tacked on 18 to lead the Rebels in the scoring department.
USC’s Jason Huper and Chris Melby also reached double figures with Huper scoring 11 and Melby putting in 10.
JCC was led by Darnell Taylor-Breck who scored a team-high 22 points. While teammate Taylor Christopher tallied 10.