Cole Nelson’s dunk off a Tyler Sea pass cut what once was a double-digit lead to only two points with about four minutes to go in the Wolves’ Section 5A quarterfinal game at Browerville-Eagle Valley Thursday night.
The host Tigers, who shot the ball well from the outside all night long, responded with a three-pointer. Another three-pointer and two put backs quieted the Walker-Hackensack-Akeley bench and its fans.
The Tigers then closed out the game by going 8-8 from the foul line over the final 1:32 for a 65-56 win.
The game plan, Coach Darin Schultz said, was to play zone defense and stop their outside shooters. “We knew they had one good shooter. Our focus was not to lose him and allow him to shoot.”
The Tigers went 6-9 from behind the arc in the first half as they grabbed a 36-26 lead.
The Wolves were able to get back into the game and had the momentum, and just like that the lead was back up to seven points.
“I was pleased with how we fought and competed in this game,” Schultz said. “We’ve had a lot of ups and downs this year, but we are thankful for our seniors and their commitment to our program.”
The win moves Browerville into Monday night’s semifinals, where they will face top seed Cromwell-Wright. The game was pushed back because of weather.
The Wolves finish their season at 15-11 with seven seniors suiting up for WHA for the last time.
Nelson and Zach Josephson led WHA with 16 and 12 points respectively, with Nelson also having six rebounds.
Cole Rasmussen finished with eight points, Gavin Deskeere scored seven and Sea had six points. Josephson and Sea each finished with three assists.
The Wolves only turned the ball over 13 times, but the Tigers only had seven. Browerville also shot 60 percent from behind the arc as they made nine three-pointers.
The Wolves made their first attempted three-pointer, but only made two more in the first half and two more in the second. The last one came in the closing seconds by Nelson.
The Tigers had five players score nine or more points. Zak Irsfeld led the way with 13 points that included making three three-pointers in the first half.
Chris Ogle came off the bench to score 12, both Brady Emery and Brian Kunerth had 10 points, and John Schueller added nine.
WHA jumped out to a 5-2 lead as Josephson drained a three off the opening tip and Nelson scored inside.
After missing their first three-pointer, the Tigers would make three straight to grab a 15-7 lead and force a Wolves’ time out. Nelson’s basket a short time later stopped a six-minute scoring drought, with Sea’s three-point play cutting the lead to 16-14.
Irsfeld’s first three-pointer was answered by Deskeere, and Rasmussen’s bunny cut the lead to 23-19 with 3:59 remaining.
Irsfeld’s second three-pointer came on the next possession, but a short time later Sea drained one. Irsfeld answered 18 seconds later as the Tigers scored eight of the final 10 points of the half to go up by 10.
The Wolves scored the first six of eight points of the second half, including Josephson’s three-point play. Ogle’s deep three extended the lead back to nine, but Josephson got inside to score again.
The officiating was not kind to the Wolves as there were several calls that didn’t go their way. The first couple came in the opening half as Nelson was knocked to the ground just as he was passing the ball to a teammate. After he got up, he got the ball right back and was called for a charge as he drove to the basket.
The worst call came about five minutes into the second half as a charge by Josephson negated a lay up that would have cut the lead to 43-38. It was Josephson’s fourth foul and it was called by the baseline official, not the one under the basket.
A few minutes later Sea joined him after he picked up his fourth foul, which could have been retribution after he was run into earlier in the half and lost control of the ball and no foul was called.
With both Josephson and Sea on the bench, Connor Craven sank a three-pointer that cut the lead to 47-41 with 7:20 remaining. After Josephson returned he went right back to work and scored inside. Nelson followed a short time later with his dunk that cut the lead to 47-45.