Spencer Schaefer hit two free throws with 26 seconds remaining to give Pillager a 55-54 Park Region Conference win over the Menahga boys basketball team at Menahga on Tuesday, Jan. 21.

The Braves had three game-winning shot attempts on the final possession, but couldn’t convert as Pillager prevailed.

Tristan Aho hit three jumpers, but Pillager jumped out to leads of 11-5 and 18-11 before a three-point play by Wade Berttunen, a layup by Aho and a 3-pointer by Charlie Hodge cut the deficit to 21-19. The Huskies built a 30-19 advantage before a jumper by Devan Leritz and a 3-pointer by Andreas Aho made it 32-25 at the half.

Tristan Aho hit a pair of jumpers to open the second half, but Pillager extended the lead to 40-29. Back-to-back 3-pointers by Hodge and Victor Aho cut the gap to 40-35 with 14:08 to play. The Huskies responded to take a 45-36 lead, but a jumper by Hodge, layups by Berttunen and Andreas Aho, and two jumpers by Tristan Aho rallied the Braves to within 49-48 with 3:14 to play. A layup and four free throws by Andreas Aho gave Menahga a 54-51 edge with 54 seconds remaining, but the Huskies rallied on AJ Gratzke’s layup with 42 seconds to play and Schaefer’s two game-winning free throws.

Schaefer’s 18 points, 12 rebounds and six assists lifted Pillager to 2-3 in conference play and 7-6 overall.

Tristan Aho scored 21 points and grabbed seven rebounds, Andreas Aho chipped in 11 points, Wade Berttunen pulled down seven rebounds and had four assists, Brock Berttunen hauled down six rebounds, and Hodge had three assists as Menahga fell to 3-2 in the conference and 6-7 overall.

Henning leads the conference standings with a 7-0 record with New York Mills (7-1) following. Wadena-Deer Creek joins the Braves at 3-2.

PILLAGER: Beard 1 6-8 8, VanVickle 1 6-8 8, Swenson 1 0-2 2, Bentson 2 1-1 5, Decker 2 1-3 6, Schaefer 6 6-7 18, Gratzke 4 0-2 8. Totals: 17 for 57 (FG), 20 for 31 (FT).
MENAHGA: Hodge 3 0-0 8, T. Aho 8 5-8 21, An. Aho 3 4-5 11, Howard 0 0-0 0, V. Aho 1 0-0 3, W. Berttunen 3 2-3 8, Leritz 1 1-2 3, B. Berttunen 0 0-0 0. Totals: 19 for 55 (FG), 12 for 20 (FT).
Halftime: Pillager 32, Menahga 26. Three-pointers: Decker 1, Hodge 2, An. Aho 1, V. Aho 1. Team fouls: Pillager 17, Menahga 21. Fouled out: Howard. Rebounds: Menahga 34 (T. Aho 7, W. Berttunen 7, B. Berttunen 6, Howard 5, V. Aho 4, An. Aho 3, Hodge 1, Leritz 1). Assists: Menahga 10 (W. Berttunen 4, Hodge 3, T. Aho 2, V. Aho 1). Steals: Menahga 4 (Hodge 1, T. Aho 1, Howard 1, An. Aho 1). Blocked shots: Menahga 2 (T. Aho 1, V. Aho 1). Turnovers; Pillager 12, Menahga 14.