Tiger rally falls shortThe Northwestern Tigers came just short of knocking off No. 3 Hayward in the WIAA Division 3 boys basketball regional semifinal Friday night at R.J. Schmidt Gymnasium in Hayward.
By: By Mike Granlund, For The Superior Telegram, Superior Telegram
HAYWARD -- The Northwestern Tigers came just short of knocking off No. 3 Hayward in the WIAA Division 3 boys basketball regional semifinal Friday night at R.J. Schmidt Gymnasium in Hayward.
The Tigers were seeking their fifth straight regional crown but it was not to be as the Hurricanes held off the late Northwestern rally and won 33-30.
The game started out slow with both teams exhibiting patient offenses and tight defenses
The ’Canes lead by one just before the end of the first quarter when Micah Olson stole the ball and got it to Nick Murray. Murray dribbled his way through traffic and drained a 3-pointer as the buzzer sounded. The successful hoist gave Northwestern a 7-5 lead after one.
It was much the same in the second as Hayward patiently tried to find the Heart O North Conference’s leading scorer Joe Stark for scoring. Northwestern, likewise, was working hard to get it to 6-foot-7 post Dylan Jardine. The half ended with Hayward leading 17-15.
With the Tigers going to a zone in the third quarter, the Hurricanes became even more deliberate in their offense.
Northwestern had difficulty finding the hoop on their end with the only points of the quarter they managed were the three Grant Pearson scored when he inbounded the ball under his own basket off the back of a ’Cane, took the ball himself and scored while drawing a foul and subsequently made the free throw.
With the quarter coming to an end, and the Tiger offense stuck in neutral, NHC coach David Gustafson replaced his team with five players off the bench and the quarter ended with Hayward ahead 24-18.
While giving the starters a break, freshman Nate Pearson managed to hold Stark in check, drawing a couple fouls on the Hurricane star.
The Tigers did force the action somewhat in the fourth quarter but still fell behind 30-21 before coach Gustafson called a time out with about four minutes to go.
With the five seniors on the court facing playoff elimination, Northwestern mounted a furious comeback.
Murray got it started with a steal and layup. Baskets by Olson and Matt Hlina got the Tigers to within three. A Hayward free throw by Shane Yoder made it 31-27 and then two Jardine charity tosses pulled the Tigers to within two at 31-29 with less than a minute to go.
The Tigers got the ball back when Stark fouled out with an offensive foul and Jardine then made one of two at the line. The next possession resulted in a one-and-one for Hayward’s Jonah Sullivan. He calmly made them both with 22 seconds left for a 33-30 lead.
Northwestern got the ball back and got off two attempts that could tie the game, but both were off the mark and Hayward preserved the victory and a date with Somerset on Saturday for the Regional title.
Northwestern, who finished the season at 12-12, got 10 points from Jardine. Murray added five, Tanner Follis four, Grant Pearson three, and Brayden Bartelt, Jeffery Priem, Hlina and Olson adding two each.
Hayward (14-8) was led in scoring by Stark’s 15 points. Jake Luedke added eight, Nick Stroede and Shane Yoder each had three, and Dalton Hessel and Jonah Sullivan added two each.