DAWSON - Joey and Michael Lee did everything they could to save Class 2A No. 2-ranked Dawson-Boyd from its first defeat this season in a showdown with No 6-ranked Southwest Minnesota Christian on Saturday.
The Lees combined to score all 30 of the Blackjacks' second-half points, but the Eagles' defense shut down Dawson-Boyd's attack for much of the final 11 minutes of a 64-60 Southwest Minnesota Christian victory.
"Southwest Minnesota Christian is a great defensive team and we have known that forever. They play hard and are disciplined," Joey Lee said. "We were stagnant, offensively. Maybe we could have moved the ball a little bit better, but they wore us down late in the game. Their defense deserves a lot of credit."
With 10:48 remaining, the Blackjacks (21-1) had their biggest lead - a nine-point, 48-39 advantage - when the Eagles went on a 21-4 run to take control of the game with a 60-52 lead heading into the final minute.
Southwest Minnesota Christian center Leighton Sampson scored nine of this game-high 27 points during the Eagles' game-clinching scoring spree. He started the run with a layup as 10:08 remained. With 6:48 left, Sampson's short jumper inside the lane tied the score at 52 before he hit a pair of free throws to hand Southwest Minnesota Christian (21-2) a two-point lead.
It was the first lead the Eagles held since being ahead 25-24 as 3 minutes remained in the first half.
Clayton Huisken came alive during the run, when he scored five of his 10 points. His 3-pointer helped Southwest Minnesota Christian go ahead 57-52 before Sampson did more damage.
"We can play some better defense at different points of the game. We play good defense overall, but we had some breakdowns that hurt us," Michael Lee said.
Zach Stratmoen, who scored all eight of his points in the first half, gave Dawson-Boyd its first lead with a layup that made it 26-25 with 2:21 left in the first half.
Joey Lee, who was limited to one point during the first 14 minutes, shot 9 of 16 from the field to lead the Blackjacks with 25 points. Michael Lee, who added 16 points on 7 of 19 shooting, was held to six first-half points.
But Dawson-Boyd was ahead 30-29 at halftime on a pair of field goals Joey Lee and Stratmoen, who put together an 8-4 run in the final 3 minutes.
Both Lees had a hot shooting touch early in the second half as Michael and, then, Joey drained back-to-back 3-pointers to give the Blackjacks a 38-33 cushion with 15:50 left. Dawson-Boyd continued with a 10-6 run while extending its edge to 48-41.
The momentum shifted toward the Eagles after that.
"We're going to make some adjustments and we are hoping that we get to play Southwest Minnesota Christian in the near future," Joey Lee said of a potential Class A postseason matchup.
Although Joey Lee's 3-pointer with 16.1 seconds left trimmed the Eagles lead to 62-58, Sampson put an exclamation point on the game by hammering down a basket-waving dunk as 10.6 seconds remained.
Despite the defeat, Michael Lee remained positive.
"This is something that we can learn from," Michael Lee said. It's definitely going to provide us with more motivation in practice."
SOUTHWEST MINNESOTA CHRISTIAN 64, DAWSON-BOYD 60
SOUTHWEST MINNESOTA CHRISTIAN (21-2 OVERALL): Clayton Huisken 4-4 0-1 10, Jake Robinson 0-1 0-0 0, Nate Pfeifle 3-8 0-0 7, Luke Nibbelink 5-6 5-5 16, Silas Top 1-2 0-1 2, Jay DeBoer 1-3 0-1 2, Leighton Sampson 11-19 5-7 27. TOTALS: 25-43 (58%) 10-15 (68%) 64.
DAWSON-BOYD (21-1 OVERALL): Jess Hansen 1-4 0-0 2, Karson Lindblad 0-0 0-0 0, Noah Stelter 1-2 0-0 2, Joey Lee 9-16 4-6 25, Kyler Collins 2-2 1-1 6, Michael Lee 7-19 1-3 16, Cody Aafedt 0-0 0-0 0, Zach Stratmoen 4-6 0-0 8. TOTALS: 24-49 (48%) 6-10 (60%) 60.
HALFTIME: Dawson-Boyd 30, Southwest Minnesota Christian 29. 3-POINT FIELD GOALS: Southwest Minnesota Christian 4-13 (Huisken 2-2, Nibbelink 1-1, Pfeifle 1-6, Robinson 0-1, Top 0-1, DeBoer 0-2); Dawson-Boyd 6-13 (J. Lee 3-4, Collins 1-1, Stelter 1-2, M. Lee 1-4). REBOUNDS: Southwest Minnesota Christian 14 (Sampson 5); Dawson-Boyd 9 (J. Lee 4). TOTAL FOULS (FOULED OUT): Southwest Minnesota Christian 11 (none); Dawson-Boyd 18 (none). TECHNICAL FOULS: None. ASSISTS: Southwest Minnesota Christian 3 (Sampson 2); Dawson-Boyd 5 (J. Lee 4). STEALS: Southwest Minnesota Christian 3 (Huisken 2); Dawson-Boyd 8 (Hansen 2, Collins 2). BLOCKED SHOTS: Southwest Minnesota Christian 1 (Sampson 1); Dawson-Boyd 1 (J. Lee 1). TURNOVERS: Not reported.