Early on it seemed as though the Region 7 quarterfinal matchup was going to be a drubbing for New England at the hands of Hettinger/Scranton.
By COLE BENZ | Herald Editor | firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
But in comes New England senior Brady Bender.
After losing five seniors to graduation last year, Bender became a primary source of scoring and offensive drive.
This game was no different.
The 6-foot 1-inch senior kept his team in the game, putting up 18 first-half points and helping New England claw their way back to just a two-point deficit before the Night Hawks went on a 10-1 run at the end of the second quarter. Bender did his best from the field, but multiple trips to the free-throw line helped inch the Tigers closer to Hettinger/Scranton.
Sadowsky put on a show of his own in the first half. Matching Bender’s 18 points, he also grabbed five rebounds and tallied one steal.
But Bender would tie it for the first time deep in the third quarter. New England sophomore forward Denit Sorenson put New England up 40-38 with a layup for their first lead of the game.
The Night Hawks had their chances.
After losing the lead twice, Night Hawk senior Thomas Maychrzak hit two key 3-pointers to overtake the Tigers on two separate occasions. Maychrzak’s first 3-point basket led the way for a 7-1 run by the Night Hawks to close out the third quarter with a 47-42 lead.
New England Cody Holt made all of his 6-foot 8-inch presence known in the second half. After only putting up two points in the first two quarters, the junior scored 20 points and went 8-for-8 from the field, helping stave off the Night Hawk comeback late in the fourth quarter.
New England senior starter Hunter Wolf only made one basket, but it was a big one. With the game tied at 57 and just over three minutes left to play, Wolf drained a 3-pointer to put the Tigers up 60-57, a lead they never relinquished. Wolf fouled out just after his game-changing basket.
After a Holt put-back layup, Hettinger/Scranton Head Coach Jeremy Deitchman earned his own technical for arguing a call. The Tigers put Bender on the line and he made both free throws to increase New England’s lead to seven with just under two minutes left in the fourth quarter.
Hettinger/Scranton started to foul with 26 second left, it was all they could do with a seven-point deficit and time ticking away. New England came away with the upset 74-70 victory, sending them to the semifinals against Dickinson Trinity.
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.
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. Sorenson was second on the team with six rebounds.