Nevis boys survive marathon, advance to state tournament
Zach Henry took only two shots during Friday night's Section 5A boys basketball championship game at Wadena.
The junior guard's second shot sent Nevis to the state Class A tournament for the second time in school history.
Henry hit a 3-pointer with :04 remaining in the fourth overtime to give the Tigers a 55-52 win over Browerville-Eagle Valley in a marathon battle of the section's No. 1 seeds.
"This was one of the best games I have been a part of in my career," said Nevis head coach Scott Kramer. "Our guys had our backs to the wall on a number of occasions, but just wouldn't quit."
This section championship game went back-and-forth the entire first half with two ties and 12 lead changes eventually leading to a 24-23 Nevis lead at the break. Jack Landquist opened the scoring with an inside basket while a jumper by Griffin Chase, two layups by Michael Landquist, a 3-pointer by Caden Kramer, another field goal by Jack Landquist and two inside baskets by Tom Wormley provided Nevis with a 19-16 advantage. That was the Tigers' largest lead of the first half. Another jumper by Chase and an inside basket by Jack Landquist gave the Tigers the edge at the break. Jordan Gorder scored 11 points and Bryce Irsfeld hit a pair of 3-pointers for B-EV, which also held a three-point lead in the first half at 16-13 at the 9:34 mark.
After Michael Landquist's basket gave Nevis a 26-23 lead at the start of the second half, B-EV went on a 13-3 spurt to claim the game's largest lead at 36-29. Irsfeld's two layups and two free throws and a pair of baskets by Ryan Warwick led the No. 1 seed in the South half of the section during that run.
Back-to-back 3-pointers by the senior duo of Chase and Andrew Dudley and two free throws by Michael Landquist cut the gap to 38-37 with 4:29 to play before Gorder's basket pushed the lead to 40-37 with 3:34 left.
B-EV seemed in control with possession and Michael Landquist on the bench after picking up his fifth foul. But a steal by Chase with 1:35 to play led to Chase's game-tying 3-pointer with :35 remaining as the North's No. 1 seed tied it at 40-40. B-EV missed the game-winning shot at the buzzer, sending the game into the first overtime.
Rallying down the stretch would serve as a preview of things to come as the Tigers overcame deficits in all four overtime periods to extend their winning streak to 23 games in a row.
To start the first overtime, Wormley won the tip, but a turnover led to a jumper by Irsfeld as B-EV claimed a 42-40 lead at the 2:11 mark. Gorder committed his fifth foul and Jack Landquist hit two free throws to tie the game at 42-42 at the 1:54 mark. Griffin Webster's layup gave B-EV a 44-42 edge with 1:06 to play. The Tigers missed two 3-pointers in the final 20 seconds before Jack Landquist was fouled after grabbing an offensive rebound with :01 showing. The junior forward hit both free throws, rattling in the first one, to tie the game at 44-44 for forced a second overtime.
Again Wormley won the tip, but another turnover set up a layup by Irsfeld as B-EV claimed a 46-44 lead with 3:08 remaining. A steal by Dudley set up a layup by Jack Landquist at the midway point for a 46-46 tie. Neither team scored again as the game went into a third extra session.
The Tigers earned the opening possession to start overtime No. 3, but another turnover led to a layup by Irsfeld as B-EV took a 48-46 lead at the 3:17 mark. Nevis claimed its first overtime lead when Chase hit a 3-pointer at the 1:48 mark and Henry hit a free throw at the 1:11 mark for a 50-48 advantage. A layup by Nate Petermeier with :51 left tied the game at 50-50 and forced another overtime.
Petermeier's jumper gave B-EV a 52-50 lead in the fourth extra period before a layup by Chase tied it at 52-52 with 2:01 remaining. B-EV turned the ball over with 1:28 left and the Tigers ran down the clock until Chase drove the lane and dished the ball to a wide-open Henry, who drained the game-winning shot.
"After getting the first possession in each overtime, we were never able to score and then played from behind throughout the overtime sessions," said Kramer. "In the fourth overtime, we got the ball back with just over a minute and a half to go and we decided to hold it for one shot. After all of the attention Chase was receiving on the perimeter, Henry ran the point until getting the ball back to Chase late and drifting to the corner and keeping the floor spaced. As Chase drove, Henry's man slid to help and Chase kicked it out to Henry, who hit a 3 to put us up for good. Browerville took one last desperation shot that was partially blocked and we won the marathon."
Chase led a balanced attack for the Tigers with 15 points and two assists. Jack Landquist added 14 points and four rebounds while Michael Landquist had 12 points, three rebounds and two assists. Wormley chipped in six blocked shots, four rebounds and two steals as Nevis improved to 28-1 on the season.
Irsfeld scored a game-high 20 points and Gorder finished with 14 points as the defending Section 5A champs ended the season with a 25-5 record.
"I wrote the letters 'WIT' on the board before the game. I told them that the letters stand for "Whatever It Takes." I told the team that we were going to do whatever it takes to win. I could not have imagined four overtimes, but our guys dug deep to be able to fight back and keep their composure after Browerville had opportunities each time to close it out. Our team stepped up. With (Michael) Landquist fouled out, Henry really stepped up to help and all five guys had a huge part in gutting out the win," said Kramer. "Getting to state has been extremely exciting and amazing, especially considering what it took in the section final game to get a win. It is also a bit of a relief. Everyone just assumed that we were going to make it back to state and it's just not that simple. For our guys to seal the deal has been rewarding."
Nevis, which is rated No. 2 in the latest state Class A poll, received the No. 4 seed for the state Class A tournament and will play No. 5-seeded Springfield in a quarterfinal game Thursday afternoon at 1 at Williams Arena on the campus of the University of Minnesota. Springfield enters state with a 28-2 record and rated No. 5 in the state poll.
In their state debut in 2015, the Tigers lost to Central Minnesota Christian 56-47 in the first round and were eliminated. This year the Tigers are guaranteed at least two games with the addition of a consolation round at state this season.
Thursday's other state quarterfinal games pit No. 1-seeded Minneapolis North (29-2) against Red Lake (25-4), No. 2 Goodhue (28-3) against Lake Park-Audubon (22-6) and No. 3 Central Minnesota Christian (26-3) against North Woods (29-1). In the latest state poll, Minneapolis North is No. 1, CMC is No. 3, Goodhue is No. 4, Red Lake is No. 6.
In last year's tournament, Minneapolis North defeated Goodhue 68-45 in the championship game while CMC defeated Red Lake 79-45 in the third-place game. LP-A also returns to state.
Target Center will host the semifinals Friday and the championship game Saturday while Concordia-St. Paul will host the consolation semifinals Friday and the consolation and third-place games Saturday.
"We have the advantage of having been through the logistics of this two years ago," said Kramer. "Our goal is to win the first game. I think we can compete with who is there. We obviously have to play well in order to advance against a field of quality teams, but our guys have stepped up in big spots all season. We hope to keep the season going on Thursday at the Barn."
BROWERVILLE/EAGLE VALLEY: Warwick 3 0-0 6, Irsfeld 8 2-2 20, Webster 4 0-0 8, Emery 0 0-0 0, Gorder 5 4-6 14, Petermeier 2 0-0 4. Totals: 22 for 43 (FG), 6 for 8 (FT).
NEVIS: Dudley 1 0-0 3, Chase 5 0-0 13, J. Landquist 4 6-8 14, M. Landquist 5 3-4 14, Wormley 2 0-0 4, Henry 1 1-2 4, Kramer 1 0-0 3. Totals: 19 for 42 (FG), 10 for 14 (FT).
Halftime: Nevis 24, B-EV 23. End of regulation: Nevis 40, B-EV 40. End of OT1: Nevis 44, B-EV 44. End of OT2: Nevis 46, B-EV 46. End of OT 3: Nevis 50, B-EV 50. Three-pointers: Irsfeld 2, Dudley 1, Chase 3, M. Landquist 1, Henry 1, Kramer 1. Team fouls: B-EV 11, Nevis 11. Fouled out: Gorder, M. Landquist.