A pair of late free throws from Grant Jensen helped number one seeded Minnewaska Area come from behind to top Redwood Valley 51-50 March 7 in the Section 3AA-North Sub-Section title game held in Marshall.
With the win the Lakers (21-6) advanced to face South top seed Jackson County Central for the Section 3AA title March 12 at 8 p.m.
The Cardinals (19-10) were in great position to win, leading 50-46 with just over a minute to play when veteran Connor Josephson went to the line for a one-and-one. He missed, but Carson Woodford managed to tip the ball back to senior Carter Guetter who was subsequently fouled and headed to the line for a one-and-one.
Guetter unfortunately also missed, and this time the Lakers would snag the rebound and go down bury a three-pointer on the left baseline by Peyton Johnsrud to cut the lead to 50-49.
The Cards managed to whittle the clock down to under 20 seconds when senior Bryant Haas was fouled and went to the line for the Cards' third one-and-one in the final minute. His shot would rattle out, and the Lakers would secure the rebound and now had the ball and a chance to win the game.
With eight seconds to play, a huge break appeared to swing the way of the Cards when the officials initially called a five-second violation on the Lakers. After getting together to discuss the call, it was determined that a timeout had been called prior to the violation and the Lakers would retain possession.
The Lakers' Jensen then drove the lane and with 2.8 seconds remaining was fouled to go to the line for two shots. He would calmly bury them both, and the Lakers would escape with the win.
It was a tough way to go out for the Cards who were in a great position to win despite standout Haas (two points) playing on one leg with an ankle injury suffered against Morris Area/CA and fellow standout Guetter only scoring six points.
A few key plays helped determine the outcome, including the Lakers Luke Barkiem knocking down a prayer three-pointer to end the first half, a questionable non goaltending call on a lay-in attempt from the Cards' Zack Paulsen-Reck late in the second half, three missed one-and-ones by the Cards in the final minute and the five second call that was changed to a timeout.
Sophomore Alex Lang knocked down a trio of three-pointers and had a solid night, finishing with 16 points, three rebounds and two assists.
Woodford added a double-double of 13 points and 10 boards, and Josephson added 10 points, seven assists and three rebounds.
Guetter would add six points, Paulsen-Reck had three points and Haas finished with two points, four rebounds, two assists and three steals.