BOYS BASKETBALL: Lancers left it all on court
MINNEAPOLIS – It took 165 field goal attempts, 115 rebounds, 48 free-throw attempts and three overtimes between two teams a little more than a 5-hour drive apart, but the clock finally struck midnight on the Cinderella team from southwest Minnesota.
Fond du Lac Ojibwe outlasted Canby 85-82 in triple overtime during an instant classic in MSHSL Boys Basketball State Tournament history. The loss ended the Lancers’ season-high 12-game winning streak.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling right now,” Ojibwe coach Earl Otis said. “Especially with it being our first time down here, we played really good basketball.”
It was the first trip to the state tournament for the Ogichidaag – an Ojibwe word for soldier, warrior and protector – and the first berth for the Lancers since 1951
The dagger came in the final 15 seconds, when a Lancer turnover put Ojibwe’s Davonte Williamson at the free-throw line and his team leading by three points. Williamson missed the front end of a 1-and-1 situations before Canby senior Michael Slaba watched his halfcourt heave fall short.
Kristian Leppke handed the Lancers a 75-73 lead by draining two free throws throw with 3:14 remaining. Williamson knotted the score at 75 with a jumper inside the lane with 2:43 left. After a missed layup, Ojibwe had the final shot of the period, but it clanged off the rim and the game needed a third overtime.
Josh Gallegos put the Lancers ahead 73-71 with 1:29 left before Ojibwe’s Bruce Martineau scored a putback to tie the game at 73 with a little more than 10 seconds to go. Canby had a chance to win it at the buzzer, but Williamson came up with a block that sent the ball sailing into the stands.
End of regulation
The Lancers, playing their first state tournament game since the Truman administration, wouldn’t go down quietly – very much like they have all season long. The Ogichidaag held a 56-39 lead with 11:40 to go before Canby used a 21-4 run during the next 3:11 to tie the score at 60.
Ojibwe – a team that likes to play with a fast tempo and can score points in a hurry – was held to its second-lowest point-total this season. During the final 4:16 of the second half, Canby played the Ogichidaag to a 7-7 deadlock.
Williamson, who finished the game with 23 points and a game-high 20 rebounds, had help from Jordan Diver, who scored 19 points, Trevontae Brown, who chipped in 15 markers, and Antonio Flores, who finished with 13 more.
The Ogichidaag shot 41 percent (36 of 87) from the field, but made only four of its 14 free-throw attempts. The Lancers shot 33 perscent (26 of 78) from the field and knocked down 74 percent (25 of 34) of their free throws.
Otis had Ojibwe play its uptemo, free-flowing style for much of the game as the Ogichidaag made 9 of 32 shots from 3-point range, compared to Canby’s effort, which was 5 of 20.
“We tried to slow the game down a couple times (near the end of regulation),” Otis said. “I felt it kinda backfired and (Canby) got back on us.”
The Lancers have a history of making scoring runs late in the second half.
“We really came back and really fought,” Slaba said. “It just really shows how our team never gave up and we were flying with our momentum. We switched to a 1-3-1 trap, (Ojibwe) struggled with that and we got some turnovers. We had been down by more than that before and came back. We knew what it was like and we weren’t going to give up. We knew this was it and we didn’t have anymore games after this. We left it all out there.”
Slaba, the team’s lone senior, left the Canby fans with a performance to remember, chalking up a career-high 35 points while Gallegos had 21 points and Leppke finished with 15 points.
Nick Prokop, who was filling in for the injured Zach Nuy, grabbed 16 rebounds to go with eight points. Slaba and Gallegos each finished the game with five assists.
As exhaustion started to take its toll with the overtimes piling up, both team saw the strength in their legs disappear. That led to missed chances to score layups and free throws down the stretch.
For Canby coach Jon Hanson, those occurrences were even enough on both sides that he didn’t read too much into it.
“You could blame a missed layup or missed free throws but, in those games, somebody is going to come out on top, eventually,” Hanson said. “The other one is going to be disappointed or frustrated.”
While the Lancers have 13 players on their state tournament roster and the Ogichidaag employed 10, Hanson wanted to rely on Canby’s experience and felt it was better to keep a short rotation of players throughout the game.
Running on empty
The Lancers have been a feel-good story all season long, defeating Dawson-Boyd, a top 10 team in the Class A poll this season, twice before knocking off defending Class A state champion Southwest Minnesota Christian to earn a spot in the state tournament quarterfinals.
“These guys don’t know how to quit,” Hanson said. “There was never any quit in this game or at all this season and that’s a sign of a good team. That’s all you can ask as a coach. Eventually, there was just nothing left in the tank.”
End of the line
Canby will lose Slaba from its roster and will have to find someone to become a top scorer next season. He was thankful for all the support over the course of his career and the season. Slaba was especially impressed with the way Canby fans supported the Lancers during their playoff run.
“The crowd was great,” Slaba said. “I just want to say thank you for all their help. As a senior, it makes it easier to let go of the game to know you have support to fall back on. It was amazing.”
Before heading to the locker room, the Lancers walked over and gave Canby’s faithful a standing ovation.
CLASS A BOYS BASKETBALL?STATE TOURNAMENT
At Williams Arena, Minneapolis
OJIBWE 85, CANBY 82, 3OT
FOND DU LAC OJIBWE (24-3 OVERALL): Trevontae Brown 6-20 0-0 15, Cameron Thompson 3-10 0-2 7, Antonio Flores 0-0 0-0 0, Davonte Williamson 10-25 2-8 23, Bruce Martineau 3-7 0-2 6, Devyn Dupuis 1-2 0-0 2, Lester Williamson 0-3 0-0 0, Jordan Diver 8-14 0-0 19, Dexter Delille 5-6 2-2 13. TOTALS: 36-87 (41%) 4-14 (29%) 85.
CANBY (25-5 OVERALL): McKinley Johansen 0-3 0-0 0, Michael Slaba 11-31 9-10 35, Nathan Cooper 1-2 1-1 3, Josh Gallegos 6-15 9-14 21, Kristian Leppke 5-14 4-4 15, Nick Prokop 3-13 2-5 16. TOTALS: 26-78 (33%) 25-34 (74%) 82.
HALFTIME: Fond du Lac Ojibwe 36, Canby 29. REGULATION: Fond du Lac 67, Canby 67. FIRST OVERTIME: Fond du Lac 73, Canby 73. SECOND OVERTIME: Fond du Lac 75, Canby 75. 3-POINT FIELD GOALS: Fond du Lac Ojibwe 9-32 (Brown 3, Diver 3, Thompson, D. Williamson, Delille); Canby 5-20 (Slaba 4, Leppke). REBOUNDS: Fond du Lac Ojibwe 59 (D. Williamson 20); Canby 56 (Prokop 16, Gallegos 9, Leppke 7). TOTAL FOULS (FOULED OUT): Fond du Lac Ojibwe 25 (Brown, Delille); Canby 16 (Johansen). TECHNICAL FOULS: None. ASSISTS: Fond du Lac Ojibwe 14 (D. Williamson 5); Canby 15 (Gallegos, Slaba). STEALS: Fond du Lac Ojibwe 12 (Thompson, D. Williamson 3); Canby 10 (Gallegos 5). BLOCKED SHOTS: Fond du Lac Ojibwe 3 (D. Williamson 2); Canby 5 (Gallegos, Leppke 2). TURNOVERS: Fond du Lac Ojibwe 21; Canby 21.