Raiders hammer down late against Rothsay to advance
No. 2 Lake Park-Audubon showed their collective playoff experience and shut down the No. 7 Rothsay Tigers in crunch time to break open a close game and advance to the Section 6A North subsection semifinals after a 65-53 victory in Audubon Thursday night.
“They came to play,” said Raiders’ senior Mitch Hall. “First half we were chasing them and we weren’t in our style.At the end we just cranked it up and then in the second half we came out slow and they came out firing and all of a sudden it was a game.”
Landon Lang and Jacob Dunbar led a Rothsay assault from outside hitting key threes and holding an early lead at 19-15 on Dunbar’s second from the arc.
Dunbar’s shot was timely in following up LP-A’s senior center Jesse Bergh, who fired up his teammates and the crowd with a two-handed jam the prior possession.
“Our kids never gave in and that’s what we’ve been preaching the past two years since I started,” Rothsay head coach Taylor Fuhs said. “Believe in yourself; believe in your teammates; we did. We just didn’t execute or get the one key stop or scores we needed to get over the top. I hate losing but I credit our kids on how well we played tonight.”
Rothsay pushed to a five-point lead, 25-20, on Lang’s third three of the first half with six minutes remaining.
Hall scored on back-to-back possessions and Bergh tied the game at 26-26 two minutes later. LP-A clamped down defensively holding the Tigers scoreless the remainder of the half while Hall hit consecutive threes, his second at the halftime horn, and he and the Raiders stomped off the court fired up leading 33-26 at the break.
“We’re two different teams, everybody sees it,” Raiders head coach Kyle Haberman said. “If we’re playing defense and our hands are up and we’re deflecting passes and we’re cranked up with energy, we’re really hard to score on. If we aren’t cranked up, we are very easy to score on. It’s a very black and white thing for us. There is no medium.”
Lang began the second half with his fourth three and Dunbar hit his third of the game while senior Wyatt Curtis ran the Tiger offense and picked up three buckets of his own to put a scare into the home crowd holding a 38-37 lead with 13 minutes to play.
Much of the game was played, offensively, three-on-three, with each team using a pair of role players to work screens and move the ball.
“It kind of felt like that,” said Hall. “They had their two role players down low that just set screens. They came to play. They’re a good team.”
“Curtis was able to get to the lane; when he creates for others and makes those floaters they’re tough to beat,” said Haberman.
Grant Pederson stepped into a three-pointer and drilled it to give LP-A back the lead 40-38, a lead they would not relinquish the remainder of the game.
“We didn’t play as well as we possibly could but we played well,” said Fuhs. “Their kids hit some big shots. It was a fun game to be a part of, it was very intense, great atmosphere.”
“Credit to Coach Fuhs, he had them going and they looked confident for the most part,” Haberman said. ”For me, I’m perfectly happy having a game like this. We need to be ready to go Saturday. We haven’t had a competitive game in a really long time, so, this is good.”
Trailing by three, Curtis had a chance to tie the game but missed the and-one after picking up a basket and a foul to leave the game 49-48 Raiders at the six-minute mark.
The Raiders went to the well and found a way to feed Bergh the ball and he exerted his dominance in the waning minutes to help LP-A pull away.
The Tigers sagged and double and triple-teamed the Raiders’ big man finding success for most of the game.
“Sometimes I knew I couldn’t pass to him but I knew if I shot it—It’s a shot, but it’s kind of a pass in my mind - just want to get it over to him,” said Hall.
“Jesse didn’t have a particularly great night until he had to and he’s going to have to do that right away,” Haberman said. “He’ll be fine; I know he will.”
Curtis led the Tigers with 20 points. Lang and Dunbar added 17 and 14, respectively.
Pederson had four threes and a team-high 20 points to pace the Raiders. Bergh and Hall added 19 and 16 points.
LP-A (19-6) will face Waubun (16-8) at 12:45 p.m. at Concordia College in Moorhead. The two teams split two games this season, each winning at home.
“They are the epitome of scrappy,” said Haberman. “They fly around and make plays. They don’t have the height. They scrap and compete. If you get up eight, they don’t care. We know each other. It’ll be a good battle.”
No. 3 Waubun defeated No. 6 New York Mills 91-56 behind Dayton Makey’s 29 points. Makey became the Bombers’ all-time leading scorer surpassing the former mark held by Kevin Hanks (2001) of 1,511 points. Makey’s current mark is 1,533.
RTH 26 27 — 43
LPA 33 32 — 65
RTH - Curtis 20, Lang 17, Dunbar 14, Keep 2.
LPA - Pederson 20, Bergh 19, Hall 16, Vohnoutka 6, Bjerke 2, Raaen 2.