For The Telegram
It was an instant classic game in Solon Springs Tuesday night as the South Shore Cardinals scored a dramatic 60-58 victory over the Solon Springs Eagles in three overtimes.
The Eagles, Cardinals and Ironwood entered the game tied for first place in the Indianhead Conference with two losses each.
The game started out very even until South Shore’s Conner Sorenson picked up his second foul with the score tied 12-12.
With Sorenson sitting, 6-foot-6 Jens Gehl led the Eagles on a run, scoring on six straight possessions.
Sorenson returned, but Solon Springs ended the first half with a 30-21 margin and Gehl had 12 points and five assists.
Early in the second half, Solon Springs gained a 10-point lead on a 3-pointer from the left wing by Caden Smith.
The Cardinals answered with a 9-0 run, which included a Sorenson 3-point play and a two-pointer, and Tristen Wilcox scoring twice on break-away layups.
After a Gehl basket, Wilcox nailed a 3-pointer to give South Shore the lead at 36-35. South Shore stretched the lead to six at 43-37 but Solon Springs fought back and a Gehl spin move basket in the lane gave the Eagles the 44-43 lead with just seconds remaining.
For Gehl, it was his 1,000th point as an Eagle in the three years since the WIAA allowed home-school students to play for their local school.
With South Shore going for the winning basket, Eagles’ Alex Hunter stole the ball and got fouled. He sank both free throws and Solon Springs led by three with just 1.8 seconds left.
A South Shore time out followed and Sorenson threw a long pass down court to Dallas Williams, who nailed a long 3-pointer at the buzzer and send the game into overtime tied at 46-46.
Solon Springs took a 51-48 lead with 25 seconds left in overtime Nick Zosel hit a floater in the lane.
South Shore advanced the ball to the frontcourt and took a time out with 9.9 seconds to go. The Cardinals got the ball to Williams in the right corner where he was closely guarded but managed to fire a 3-pointer that found the bottom of the net, sending the game into the second overtime.
In the second overtime, a Gehl hoop looked like it may hold up, but it was Williams with a drive and pull up shot off the banking board with 15 seconds to go to tie the game.
The Eagles had time, but with Gehl surrounded by Cardinals, they could not get off a quality shot and the game went into the third overtime at 56-56.
In the third overtime, South Shore took an early lead and maintained it with free throws from Williams and Sorenson and another breakaway layup by Wilcox.
Gehl ended up with 23 points, Caden Smith scored 11 points, Nick Zosel had 10, Hunter six, Aaron Pfister four, Latvala three, and Dane Banks two.
For South Shore, Williams finished with 20 points after scoring only two in the first half.
Sorenson added 19 points and 15 rebounds, Wilcox scored 17 points and Doug Hipsher and Bjorn Branham chipped in two each. Hipsher also had 11 rebounds.
“That was a great game,” Solon Springs coach Dale Rajala said. “I am so proud of my players. We still have a lot of basketball left this year.”
South Shore coach Matt Bailey had praise for his team as well.
“We have confidence in all of our players to make threes, especially Dallas,” Bailey said. “I’m not sure if I’ve been involved in a more exciting game.”
Thanks to a Drummond upset over Ironwood on Tuesday, South Shore (13-3, 11-2) finds itself on top of the IC, followed by Solon Springs (13-3, 8-3) and Ironwood (9-3).
The Eagles play at Washburn at 7:15 p.m. today (Friday), while South Shore plays at Ashland today and hosts Washburn Tuesday.
EAGLE EXTRAS: Sorenson recently scored his 1,000th point for South Shore. … Other Eagles to score at least 1,000 points were Tony West (1996), Zach Gilbert (2006), Kenny Smith (2004) and Adam Vandenberghe (2016). … The victory by South Shore broke a 32-game home winning streak by Solon Springs. The Eagles’ last home loss was to the Siren Dragons in the 2015 WIAA tournament. … Solon Springs is the two-time defending conference champion as they shared the crown with Washburn in 2016 and with Drummond in 2017.
South Shore 21 25 5 5 4 — 60
Solon Springs 30 16 5 5 2 — 58
South Shore — Dallas Williams 20, Connor Sorenson 19, Tristin Wilcox 17, Doug Hipsher 2, Bjorn Branham 2. Totals: 22 10-20 60.
3-point goals — Wilcox 3, Williams 3.
Solon Springs — Jens Gehl 23, Caden Smith 10, Nick Zosel 10, Alex Hunter 6, Pfister 4, Chase Latvala 3, Dane Banks 2. 25 6-12 58.
3-point goals — Smith, Latvala.
South Shore ran away from the Eagles in the second half for a 59-48 victory on Jan. 25 in Solon Springs.
The Eagles led 26-21 at the half, but the lead didn’t last long as South Shore had a 38-22 advantage in the second half.
Morgan Anderson led Solon Springs with 209 points.
The Cardinals got scoring from 10 players with Chloe Sipsas and Heather Ranta leading the way with 13 and 12 points, respectively.
The Eagles, who hosted Butternut Thursday night, play at Drummond at 7:15 p.m. Monday.
South Shore 21 38 — 59
Solon Springs 26 22 — 48
South Shore — Rylee Nicoletti 8, Taylor Nicoletti 4, Morgan Rock 2, Myla Lahti 9, Signe Branham 2, Sara Kangas 2, Heather Ranta 12, Chloe Sipsas 13, Lilly Tapani 2, Natalie Knaack 5. Totals: 16 20-32 59.
3-point goals — Lahti, Knaack.
Solon Springs — Morgan Anderson 20, Kylli Rajala 8, Allison Androsky 8, Domonique Orozco 5, Muree Ahlberg 3, Heather Holderness 2, Brandi Winkler 1, Lily Nordskog 1.