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Thunderbirds advance to subsection final in OT

Jayden Heisler (11) drives the baseline for a contested shot against the defense of NCE/UH's Tate Maesse during the Section 6A north subsection semifinal at The Hive Gymnasium in Perham Monday, March 11. Robert Williams / Forum News Service

If No. 2 Mahnomen-Waubun has a weak spot it’s free throw shooting, but the Thunderbirds overcame that clinching a 59-49 overtime victory from the line to eliminate No. 3 Norman County East-Ulen Hitterdal and advance to the north subsection final of Section 6A at The Hive Gymnasium in Perham Monday, March 11.

“These kids know how to win,” Mahnomen-Waubun head coach John Clark, Jr. said. “They find a way to win, a different way. They make all the hustle plays and they’ve got that confidence in them. They’re going to win a close game. They believe in themselves.”

Senior Jayden Heisler had a tough game playing with four fouls for much of the second half but routinely made plays that will not show in the scorebook to help his team. He got back in the scorebook stealing the overtime tip and draining a big three for a 48-45 lead in the extra session the Thunderbirds would not relinquish.

“It just comes down to coming down the court and working hard, getting what you deserve and earn it,” said Heisler.

Mahnomen-Waubun dominated overtime using the free throw line to expand to a 10-point lead after five minutes of play, the largest lead of the game.

“I don’t know if we made a shot the entire second half,” Clark, Jr. said. “It just didn’t seem like we scored. Luckily, defense and our rebounding, just scramble plays made us tonight. I thought we won all the scramble plays and the kids kept balls alive. That saved us and we got the right guys to the line.”

The line contributed to the game going to overtime as the Thunderbirds missed eight of 10 free throws after gaining the bonus to allow the Titans to storm back and get a Noah Klemetson three to tie the game 45-45 with five seconds remaining in regulation.


A Parker Syverson shot at the horn for the win missed.

“It was a heck of a battle,” said Heisler. “They put up a battle right away. Free throws made the difference tonight.”

Two players from each team did all the scoring for the opening nine minutes of the game as the Thunderbirds' Treston Spalla and Syverson combatted the Titans' Steffen Sather and Broden Lien to a 10-all deadlock at the 9:30 mark.

Scoring was back-and-forth as the teams played to six tied scores to a 21-all deadlock with three minutes until halftime.

Tempers flared as four players flung themselves to the floor to corral a loose ball at midcourt as each possession became more meaningful down the stretch.

The Thunderbirds Tanner Pazdernik hit a big three-pointer with a little over a minute remaining in the half and followed up with a field goal with 25-seconds to go for the only scoring in the final three minutes.

The Titans got the ball down low as time wound down but Kale McCollum's jump hook in the paint was no good as the horn sounded to a 26-21 Thunderbird advantage at the break.

The Thunderbirds (19-8) are the defending Section 6A champions and know what it takes to get to state.

“Winning makes you play harder and get the win more,” said Heisler.

The Titans finish the season at 17-11 having lost to Mahnomen-Waubun three times.

Mahnomen-Waubun will face Henning in Perham at 6 p.m., Wednesday, March 13.

NCE  21 24 4  - 49

M-W 26 19 14 - 59

NCE - Noah Klemetson 13, Broden Lien 12, Tate Maesse 9, Steffen Sather 8, Kale McCollum 5, Moran Stueness 2.

M-W - Parker Syverson 18, Treston Spalla 14, Jayden Heisler 11, Tanner Pazdernik 7, Buster Walker 5, Jon Starkey 2, Will Bly 2.

Henning's Blake Wallevand (4) blocks the shot of Hillcrest Lutheran Academy's Thomas Zwiers.

Hornets hang on against upset-minded Comets

No. 1 Henning got all it could handle from No. 5 Hillcrest Lutheran Academy fending off a half-court heave at the final buzzer from the Comets to avoid an upset in a 54-52 victory to advance in the early game of the Section 6A north subsection playoffs Monday in Perham.

After trailing the entire first half, Blake Wallevand scored the first three baskets of the second half to give the Hornets a first taste of being in the lead 31-28.

The Comets battled back to go in front 36-35 on a pair of Thomas Zwiers free throws , followed by a three-pointer from Gabriel Preston.

The teams tied at 41 and 43 points each before Henning took over for good.

The Comets were caught with only one team foul and chased Henning ball handlers around from the two-minute mark to 32-seconds left in the game getting to the bonus. Wallevand drained both shots for a five-point lead 54-49.

Blake Wallevand (4), Gabriel Preston (33)

Foss answered with a desperate three-pointer to pull within two and fouled out sending Sam Fisher to the line where he missed the first attempt. Sander Frustol pulled down the rebound and relayed to Micah Foss who heaved a shot from behind the timeline that hit high on the backboard allowing the top seeds to escape.

Hillcrest got off to a fast start and a pair of early 10-point leads while Henning struggled to find consistency on the offensive end until the latter stages of the first half.

The Comets led 12-2 five minutes into the game and 20-10 at the 7:20 mark on a basket by Zwiers.

Henning (26-1) found a groove led by eight Fisher points in the opening 18 minutes closing on a 15-8 run to create a one-possession game at halftime 28-25 Hillcrest.

Wallevand led all scorers with 17 points. Zwiers paced the Comets (14-11)scoring 14 points.

HLA 28 24 - 52

HEN 25 29 - 54

HLA - Thomas Zwiers 14, Sander Frustol 12, Nick Foss 11, Gabriel Preson 11, Logan Disabella 2, Micah Foss 2.

HEN - Blake Wallevand 17, Sam Fisher 13, Isaac Fisher 9, Parker Fraki 6, Adam Lange 6, Dylan Trana 3.

Robert Williams

Sports Editor at the Detroit Lakes Tribune. Williams worked prior as the Sports Editor in Perham for the Focus, a Forum Communications newspaper, from 2010-14. 

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