Call it an upset. Call it a game gone wrong. Call it what you will. Either way, the Night Hawks lost in the Region 7 quarterfinals and were sent home early.
By COLE BENZ | Record Editor | firstname.lastname@example.org
This game was a rematch of last year’s Region 7 semifinals, a game that New England won on their way to a Region 7 championship and state tournament berth. Hettinger/Scranton was hoping that this one would end differently.
Early on it looked as though it was going to be a drubbing at the hands of the Night Hawks after they took an early 20-4 lead, but the Tigers clawed their way back to a 74-70 victory.
Entering the game as the No. 3 seed, the 14-7 Night Hawks were poised to make some noise in the regional tournament, hoping to punch their ticket to state.
For a while, it looked like they were well on their way.
The Night Hawks cruised to a 17-2 lead, that included 15 points in the first three minutes of the game with the help of 3-pointers from Hayden Sadowsky and Sam Kludt. A technical foul by New England Head Coach Shawn Flaherty, and ensuing free throws made by Sadowsky seemed to deflate the team and the Tiger crowd. Hettinger/Scranton’s largest lead of the game came early in the first when they found themselves with a 16 point advantage.
But New England senior Brady Bender kept his team in the game when it looked like all was lost. Never expressing much emotion, Bender kept pounding and shooting. He ended up scoring 18 of New England’s 23 first-half points.
The Night Hawks had their chances to put the game away, multiple times.
After New England brought the game to within two points, Hettinger/Scranton closed out the second quarter on a 10-1 run on their way to a 34-23 halftime lead. But the Tigers kept coming, and the Night Hawk defense allowed them to take a 40-38 lead around the two minute mark in the third quarter.
On the ensuing possession, Night Hawk senior Thomas Maychrzak hit a key 3-pointer to jump start a nine-point scoring run, putting Hettinger/Scranton back in front by five at the end of three quarters.
Again, the Tigers kept coming.
After growing their lead to eight points, New England cut the deficit, and regained the lead three minutes into the fourth quarter. Hettinger/Scranton’s Isaiah Kludt and New England’s Bender traded baskets before another key Maychrzak 3-pointer that gave the Night Hawks the lead yet again. It would be the last time they were ahead.
New England sophomore center Cody Holt scored on a layup, tying the game at 57. New England senior guard Hunter Wolf scored one basket all game, it was a 3-pointer that gave the Tigers the lead, for good this time.
With just under 30 second left, and the Hettinger/Scranton deficit up to seven points, the Night Hawks couldn’t do much but start fouling, sealing the deal for the Tigers.
Night Hawk shooting went cold, and the Tigers outscored them 51-36 in the second half. The Night Hawks shot only 38.6 percent from the field all game. New England shot 55 percent.
Bender led his team with a game-high 37 points, Holt followed with 22.
Holt grabbed a game-high 14 rebounds to complete the double-double. Sophomore Denit Sorenson was second on the team with six rebounds.
Leading the way for the Night Hawks was Sadowsky with 32 points. Isaiah Kludt followed with 12 points, with Sam Kludt putting up 11.
Leading rebounder for Hettinger/Scranton was Sadowsky with six. Nevan Weaver and Sam Kludt each grabbed five.