The Waterville-Elysian-Morristown Buccaneers were one free throw away from winning the Section 2A South Subsection championship tonight. The top seed St. Clair Cyclones survived the thriller 75-64 by pulling away in the second overtime. WEM was the #7 seed in the Subsection.
St. Clair led 31-29 at the half in what was a back and forth first half that was about as even as in every statistic as it could be. After the Cyclones took a 53-52 lead with 10.5 seconds to go the Buccaneers got the ball up the court with 6’3 junior Domanik Paulson going right to the basket. Rather than allow him to score he was fouled with 4.1 seconds to go.
Paulson was 4 for 4 from the line in the first half but he played every tick tock of the clock and was able to tie but not give his team the lead. The score at the end of regulation was 53-53.
St. Clair came into the game averaging 73.1 points per contest. At the start of the competition they got the ball into 6’8 junior Derrick Zeldenrust for three quick layups and Bucs Head Coach Jeff Wagner took a time out to make some defensive adjustments. He would have 3 points the rest of the half.
5’10 senior Ethan Bartelt led the scoring in the first half for WEM with 10 points.
The Buccaneers needed just one more free throw in the first overtime to advance to Friday night’s Section 2A title game. They went 0 for their first 6 in the overtime, finishing the extra session with a 1 for 9 performance.
It was 63-63 after the first overtime. The free throw shooting woes were probably due to being very tired. Paulson, Bartelt, Nutter played every second and you need your legs to make baskets from the so-called charity stripe.
St. Clair junior 5’11 Connor Andree took over the final minutes of regulation and continued into the overtimes making shot after shot. Mostly on drives to the basket. Andree had 6 points at halftime. He ended the game with 32 points.
Zeldenhust scored in the second overtime on three consecutive pick and roll plays finishing the game with 18 points.
Andree scored 7 of the 10 points in the first overtime and half their points in the second extra session. He was unstoppable.
Paulson led the Bucs with 25 points, 13 rebounds, Bartelt also had a double double with 18 points and 11 boards, Nutter with 17 points added a couple blocks.
Waterville-Elysian-Morristown finished the game 14 of 29 from the free throw line. St. Clair was 11 of 16. The Cyclones had 21 turnovers, Bucs 16 turnovers in the contest.
WEM ended their season with a 11-9 record. St. Clair advances with a 14-2 mark and plays Sleepy Eye-St. Mary’s for the Section 2A title Friday night in Arlington at 7:00 p.m.
KDHL will be broadcasting the Section 2A Girls Basketball Championship game Thursday night beginning 6:45 p.m. in Arlington between Waterville-Elysian-Morristown and Sleepy Eye-St. Mary’s.
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