Colman-Egan senior, Matt Nelson, attacks the rim during Tuesday night’s Region 2B title game versus Arlington. Nelson finished the game with nine points as the Hawks fell to Arlington 60-50 at the Swiftel Center in Brookings. photo courtesy of Sean Welsh/The Brookings Register
The Colman-Egan CE-Hawks (8-14) boys’ basketball team led for a majority of their Region 2B championship game versus the Arlington Cardinals (16-4) but was unable to hold on at the end, falling one game short of their first State Tournament berth since the 2009-10 season, 60-50, at the Swiftel Center in Brookings.
The Hawks dominated the start of the game, going on a 10-3 run thanks to two three pointers by senior Keaton Westover, who would later go on to hit his third three in as many attempts in the final minute of the quarter, giving the Hawks a 15-9 lead after one quarter of play.
The Hawks continued to play well in the second quarter but the Cardinals were able to find pockets in the Hawks defense, as well as shut down the hot-handed Westover.
The Cardinals took their first lead of the game on an Andrew King lay up, 21-20. That lead was short lived as Trenton Hemmer took the ball right down the court and converted on an old-fashioned three-point-play. The Hawks finished off their 6-0 run with a couple of Matt Nelson free throws, giving them a 26-21 lead. The Cardinals added two more quick points before the half ended, bringing the score to 26-23 midway through the game.
The Cardinals would not back down in the third quarter but the Hawks were playing their hearts out to maintain their small lead. Arlington tied the game at 26 all right away to start the third quarter but Nelson was able to convert a basket that eventually started a 7-0 run for the Hawks. Haiden Schmidt added a bucket and the foul during the run as well as two free throws from Riley Clark, giving the Hawks a 33-26 lead early in the third.
The Cardinals responded with a 5-0 run of their own to get the score within two points but Arlington’s strategy of fouling Clark almost every time he touched the ball was not paying off. Clark, who entered the game shooting less than 50% from the line this year, was shooting lights out from charity stripe. Clark’s two free throws extended the Hawk lead to four and was quickly followed by a Hemmer basket in the closing seconds of the period to give the Hawks a 37-33 lead with just eight minutes remaining.
Arlington came out of the intermission firing, starting with a 5-0 run to give them just their second lead of the night at 38-37. That lead, like their first, was short lived. Hemmer made a basket and Clark followed with two more successful free throw attempts giving the Hawks a two-point lead.
The lead wavered back-and-forth between the two teams until just over two minutes left in the game. Schmidt tied the game back up with a basket after a Cardinal turnover but the Cardinals took the lead right back on a King bucket, 50-48. This lead, unlike the others, was not short lived, and the Hawks were unable to crawl back. The Hawks tried getting the Cardinals to miss a few free throws, which they didn’t, and by the time the game was over, Arlington had pulled ahead by 10 and earned them a spot in the State ‘B’ Tournament in Aberdeen.
“It was a tough night for the Colman-Egan boys. The kids executed a game plan to almost perfection, and as a coach that is all you can ask for. We played hard the entire night and did not give up,” Colman-Egan head coach Brant Deutsch said.
“Give Arlington credit, they made some big shots down the stretch and when a team shoots 19-23 from the free throw line it makes it tough,” he added.
Clark finished the game 10-14 from the free-throw line and a team high 16 points and eight boards. Westover, Nelson and Hemmer each finished with nine points for the Hawks. Schmidt finished the game with seven points for Colman-Egan.
Four Cardinals finished in double figures on the night. Tage Hargens led the way with 18 points, while Zach Warnke finished with a double-double, 13 points and 11 boards. King finished with 12 and Lane Weber rounded out the double digit scorers with 10 points for Arlington.
The Hawks finished the season with an 8-15 record, while the Cardinals improve to 17-4 and will play in this weekend’s Class ‘B’ State tournament in Aberdeen. They will face Dupree tomorrow (Thursday) night at 7:45 in their opening round game.
Colman-Egan 15 11 11 13 50
Arlington 9 14 10 27 60