MONTEVIDEO - Sometimes athletes have to dig deep to earn a win. The Lincoln HI boys basketball players, led by a strong core of seniors, did just that to keep their season alive and advance past Canby in a Section 3A-North quarterfinal game Saturday afternoon in Montevideo.
The Rebels got a one-handed shot in the lane from senior center Jeramie Blegen in the final 30 seconds of regulation to force overtime, saw senior guard Andrew Swanson step up with four points, three steals and a pair of assists to force a another overtime, then held Canby scoreless in the second overtime to escape with a 73-63 victory.
It was a different Lincoln HI player who lifted his game to help his team in each frame. With the Rebels struggling on offense early - scoring just seven points in the first 11 minutes, 50 seconds - sophomore guard Jordan Beck used aggressive penetration to score 12 of his team-high 18 points in the first half and help the Rebels gain a 26-23 lead at halftime.
Photo by Matt Dahlseid
Lincoln HI’s Jordan Beck, left, goes up for a shot under the basket as Canby’s Zach Nuy defends during Saturday’s Section 3A-North game in Montevideo.
Then, as the game entered its critical moments, it was the Lincoln HI seniors who shined. Blegen scored 15 of his 17 points in the second half to help the Rebels overcome a late surge by Canby and force overtime. Swanson stepped up in the first overtime and almost helped his team close out the game if not for a three-pointer by Lancer guard Michael Slaba with six seconds left to send the game to another overtime. Finally, in the final frame, senior center Dion Nelson scored seven of his 15 points as Lincoln HI closed out Canby.
"We weren't ending the season today, there was no doubt in our minds," said Swanson, who had seven points and seven assists in the victory. "We seniors felt we still had at least one more game left in us."
Lincoln HI (11-10 overall), the No. 5 seed in the sub-section, moves on to face top seed Dawson-Boyd at 6 p.m. Thursday at Southwest Minnesota State University. The Lancers finish the season at 10-14.
Lincoln HI (73)
Josh Bednarek 3 1-1 8, Andrew Swanson 3 1-3 7, Jordan Beck 6 4-7 18, Nate Pavek 2 1-4 5, Jeff Gladis 1 0-0 3, Jeramie Blegen 8 0-0 17, Dion Nelson 6 3-4 15. Totals 29 10-19 73. Three-pointers 5 (Beck 2) 32 (Blegen 12) Assists 18 (Swanson 7, Bednarek 6) Steals 9 (Swanson 3) Blocks 8 (Nelson 4, Blegen 4) Turnovers 21 Total Fouls 18.
Michael Slaba 5 3-4 16, Nate Stafki 3 0-0 9, Michael Sisk 3 2-7 8, Tanner Balvin 6 0-0 16, Zach Nuy 1 7-8 9, Kyle Devos 1 3-6 5. Totals 19 15-25 63. Three-pointers 10 (Balvin 4, Slaba 3, Stafki 3) Rebounds 31 (Sisk 7, Stafki 6) Assists 11 (Slaba 4) Steals 7 (Stafki 3) Blocks 1 Turnovers 16 Total Fouls 19.
Halftime Score: Lincoln HI 26, Canby 23.
Canby, which beat Lincoln HI 92-64 on Feb. 3, struggled to find its range on Saturday. The Lancers finished shooting 32.2 percent from the field and were 10 of 31 from three-point range, with many of the long-distance misses coming in the second overtime.
Slaba and Tanner Balvin each scored 16 points for Canby, with Balvin hitting four threes and Slaba connecting on three. Nate Stafki and Zach Nuy each added nine points in the loss.
Lancers head coach Jon Hanson couldn't fault his players' effort, but said they just ran out of gas.
"They killed us on the penetration in the last part of the second half there, otherwise I thought we did a pretty good job defensively," Hanson said. "The time we beat them it was because we shot about 85 percent and made 15 threes. I knew it was going to go down to the end this time.
"The kids played hard, but the shots didn't fall. We came back twice to send it into overtime and double overtime, but our tank kind of went empty after that."
Both teams got off to a slow start offensively and Canby clung to an 11-7 lead with 7:22 remaining in the first half. Lincoln HI scored 19 points over the final 6:10 of the half, thanks in part to Beck's penetration, and went up by three at halftime.
Blegen showed his versatility in the second half to help Lincoln HI push its lead as high as eight points, hitting a three-pointer off an inbounds pass early on and then showing off some effective moves in the paint. Canby went on an 11-4 run over the final 5:49 and took a 53-51 lead with 1:10 left after a baseline jumper by Nuy. Blegen, however, tied the game with a one-handed shot in the lane with 29 seconds remaining, and Slaba missed a step-back three at the buzzer.
Swanson, who only made one basket in regulation, found another gear in overtime, causing havoc for Canby by coming up with three steals, scoring four points and dishing out a pair of assists to help Lincoln HI grab a 63-60 lead with 18.1 seconds left.
"Some of the kids, they do that," Lincoln HI head coach Brock Citterman said of Swanson's surge. "They'll be quiet for most of the game, then all of the sudden they'll have four or five good possessions in a row. He got a couple shots to go, drew a couple fouls and had some nice passes. He gave us a spark there for a good five minutes."
Slaba came off a screen and hit a three-pointer from the right wing with six seconds left to tie the score and send the game to another overtime. But even with Blegen on the bench after fouling out in the first overtime, Lincoln HI was able to finish off the Lancers thanks to a stiff defensive effort and Nelson's seven points in the final frame.