Cody Perkins’ basket with just five seconds left Friday was just enough for Mott-Regent to pull out a narrow 62-60 victory over the Tigers in New England.
By Brad Mosher
The win catapulted the Wildfire into second place in the Region 7 standings with a 6-1 record (10-6) overall.
Glen Ullin-Hebron has the regional lead with a 7-1 record, while Beulah is third, just a half-game behind the Wildfire with a 5-1 record. The loss dropped New England to 1-5 in regional play.
The Tigers started the game with a strong surge but was battling with the Wildfire through the first quarter and most of the second.
With both teams tying after one quarter (13-13), it was the Wildfire who jumped into the lead in the second quarter on Isaac Frey’s three-pointer, but consecutive baskets by New England’s Jaxon Hewson and Ace Fischer put the hosts back in the lead.
Seconds later, Caleb Candrian gave the Wildfire the lead again as the two teams continued their to-to-toe scoring battle through out most of the second quarter.
Just before halftime, the two teams were tied at 27-27 and with 13 seconds left it was 29-29.
It was Gabe Sorenson’s buzzer shot that gave the hosts a 31-29 at halftime.
Sorenson hit another shot from outside the arc to start the third quarter scoring and give the Tigers a 34-29 lead.
Slowly, the Tigers built a 41-34 lead, thanks to a three-point play by Cooper Granger with 4:42 on the clock.
That started a mini-run with Hewson and Sorenson scoring five points, but a pair of back-to-back-to-back scores by Candrian helped cut a one-time 10-point lead to just five (48-43) with just over a minute left.
Adrian Rebel gave the Tigers a little breathing room with a buzzer-beating three-pointer that made the score 51-44 going into the final quarter, turning a four-point advantage into a seven-point lead.
Sorenson made the lead nine points (53-44) .
But Asad Watson Buffalo and Candrian responded with three pointers that cut the lead to just three points (53-50) with less than five minutes left.
Rebel forced in an offensive rebound to make the lead five points, but Perkins hit a pair of free throws to cut the lead to three again (55-52).
With four minutes left, Candrian got a steal and score, cutting the lead to just one point, but Rebel made the lead three (57-54) with a basket at 3:10 remaining.
Sorenson’s three-pointer with 2:22 left gave the Tigers a 60-56 lead, but a Perkins free throw and a three-pointer by Frey tied the game (60-60) with 1:06 left on the clock.
Perkins broke the tie with a basket and 5.6 seconds on the clock, getting the winning points, but his defense on Rebel’s attempted buzzer-beater from the three-point zone may have been what ensured the narrow win for the Wildfire.
In the final eight minutes of the game, the visitors had outscored the Tigers by an 18-9 margin, thanks in large part to three three-pointers by Candrian, Frey and Watson Buffalo.
According to Perkins, the win was a testament to the Wildfire’s stubbornness and determination.
Perkins, who finished with 19 points, said “It was intense. That whole game was intense.
“We kind of came out slow and finally battled back. We got back in it. It had a chance to go in (with 5.6 seconds left) and it went in,” he said about the game-winning shot.
In the final minutes of the game, Perkins was carrying four fouls. “I was very nervous. I should have played smarter, but it worked out in the end,” he added.
Although Perkins scored the winning basket, he wasn’t the high scorer in the game. That honor went to Sorenson who finished with 25 points in the losing effort.
Perkins finished with 19 points, while Candrian added 18 and Frey put in 13 points.Watson Buffalo finished with eight, while Ryan Doe added three and Sam Huether scored one free throw.
Rebel scored 15 for the Tigers, while Fischer added nine and Hewson put in six. Granger had three, while Logan Wolf and Joseph Harmon each scored two.
In three-point baskets, Mott-Regent finished with eight, thanks to four from Candrian, while Sorenson had five of the Tigers’ seven long-range scores.
The Wildfire also had the advantage in scoring at the free throw, getting a 12-5 edge.
The Tigers finished the game with a 17-9 edge in two-point scores.
The Wildfire hosted Trinity Tuesday, with more travel ahead at Beulah (Feb. 8) and Hettinger-Scranton (Feb. 14).
Mott-Regent will close out the regular season with two home games against Washburn (Feb. 16) and Richardton-Taylor (Feb. 22) in the Mott Armory.
New England returns from Tuesday’s game at Heart River to host winless Killdeer Friday evening at 7 p.m. and also host Harding County (Feb. 12).
The Tigers will travel to play Flasher (Feb. 14) and Bowman County (Feb. 16) before closing out the regular season against Glen Ullin-Hebron (Feb. 22).
Wildfire bounce Beach, 86-79
Mott-Regent made a trip to Beach pay off Jan. 31 with a high-scoring 86-79 win over the Buccaneers.
Thanks to Perkins’ 33-point scoring effort, the Wildfire held off a furious finish by the Buccaneers to claim another crucial Region 7 win.
Both teams battled to an 18-18 tie after one quarter. But it was in the second and third quarters the Wildfire would find the scoring needed to cushion themselves from a furious fourth quarter scoring barrage which almost pulled out a win for the home team.
In the second quarter, the Wildfire started to pull ahead, breaking away to a 39-31 lead at the break.
Mott-Regent continued the pressure in the third quarter, out-scoring their hosts by 11 points to build a 64-45 lead.
The Wildfire would need every bit of that 19-point lead to hold off the Buccaneers in the final quarter.
Beach scored more points in the fourth quarter (34) than the team did in the first half (31).