St. Cloud Apollo ends Detroit Lakes' season on overtime buzzer-beater

J'amari Abston sinks Laker playoff hopes with late shot at the horn.

St. Cloud Apollo unior guard J'amari Abston drains this jump shot between Christian Solberg (24) and Caeden Yliniemi (14) at the buzzer in overtime to lead the No. 5 Eagles over No. 4 Detroit Lakes Friday, March 19, 2021 at Ralph Anderson Gymnasium. Robert Williams / Tribune

Junior guard J'amari Abston drained an 18-foot jumper to beat the buzzer and send No. 5 St. Cloud Apollo to the Section 8AAA boys basketball semifinals after a 54-52 thrilling victory over No. 4 Detroit Lakes Friday, March 19 at Ralph Anderson Gymnasium.

“The kids came out and did everything we asked and performed our game plan to a tee and give (Apollo) credit, they hit a tough shot at the end,” Lakers head coach Markus Okeson said.

The teams went to overtime tied at 48-all.


Apollo had the ball for the final 30 seconds of regulation after a Laker turnover in the offensive zone.

After a timeout, the Eagles wound the clock down for the last shot but guard Corey Barnes’ three-point attempt from the corner found front iron and forced the four-minute extra session.

Quamar Gresham sank a three right off the overtime tip-off and stole the ball on DL’s ensuing trip up the floor. He was fouled and made one of two to put Apollo up 52-48.

Elias Gloege made two freebies at the 3:13 mark to pull the Lakers within two points.

DL sat back in a defensive zone and Apollo stalled to eat up time on the clock.

Apollo came up empty on two offensive trips, both misses by Gresham. Nate Cihak missed a three for the lead in between the possessions.

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Detroit Lakes' Nate Cihak (00) makes a save at the end line while being defended by Apollo's Quamar Gresham during the second half of the Section 8AAA quarterfinal Friday, March 19, 2021. Robert Williams / Tribune


Caeden Yliniemi got to the line with 60 seconds left on the clock and calmly made both attempts to tie the game.

Apollo held the ball for the final shot leading to Abston’s heroics.

The first half was back-and-forth with five lead changes and three tied scores.

“It felt like a really good high school basketball game and that’s what it is - a game of runs,” said Okeson. “Ultimately, a 40-minute basketball game was decided by one possession.”

Gresham gave St. Cloud an 18-17 lead just past the midway point of the half.

He hit back-to-back threes to give Apollo its largest lead of the game 26-17 at the 6:35 mark.

Elias Gloege (4) had a trio of three-pointers and a team-high 14 points to lead the Detroit Lakes offense in a section quarterfinal overtime loss to St. Cloud Apollo at home Friday, March 19, 2021. Robert Williams / Tribune


Gloege answered with two free throws and a three to cut the lead to 26-23. Azayah Washington and Nate Cihak traded late buckets and the visitors led 28-25 at the break.

The Lakers led by as many as six points early in the second half 37-31 on a Christian Solberg basket.

Solberg gave DL the lead back a minute earlier grabbing a rebound and swishing a five-footer.

Apollo trailed to the six-minute mark, when Gresham struck again for a 44-43 advantage.

The lead flipped four times in the final six minutes.

Yliniemi drove baseline and made a nice reverse layup to put DL up 48-47 with less than two minutes left in regulation.

Hassan Doumbia made one of two free throws to tie the game 28 seconds later.


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Detroit Lakes senior center Zack Oistad (55) gets one of his four blocks in the game on Hassan Doumbia (34) in the latter stages of the 8AAA quarterfinal Friday, March 19, 2021. Robert Williams / Tribune

DL had a possession for the win, but a Yliniemi pass to Zack Oistad in the paint was turned over and Yliniemi fouled Thomas Diew.

The foul was DL’s sixth of the half saving a trip to the line and leading to the miss by Barnes at the horn.

Gresham led all scorers with 22 points; Diew added 15. Abston, the hero, had only four points but made them count.

Gloege led the Lakers with 14 points; Cihak had 12

Detroit Lakes ended the season at 9-8 after playing only the second game against a section opponent this year. Conversely, Apollo played 11 of 19 games against 8AAA teams and improved to 8-11 overall.

The Lakers have lost three straight playoff games with first round bow outs the past two seasons. The last win was at Bemidji in 2018.

Around the section, No. 1 Alexandria defeated No. 8 St. Cloud Tech 55-43 and will host Apollo in the semis. No. 2 Sauk Rapids-Rice defeated No. 7 Little Falls 73-49 Thursday, March 18. The Storm will face No. 3 Sartell-St. Stephen, 56-47 winners over No. 6 Bemidji 56-47.


The section semifinals will be played at the high seed Tuesday, March 23; the championship game is scheduled for Friday, March 26 at the high seed.

Section 8AAA Boys Basketball quarterfinal

No. 5 St. Cloud Apollo 54, No. 4 Detroit Lakes 52 (OT)

STA 28 20 6 - 54

DET 25 23 4 - 52

STA - Quamar Gresham 22, Thomas Diew 15, Hassan Doumbia 7, J'amari Abston 4, Azayah Washington 4, Darien Lewis 2.

DET - Elias Gloege 14, Nate Cihak 12, Christian Solberg 8, Zack Oistad 7, Caeden Yliniemi 6, Chris Breeden 5.

Read more stories by Robert Williams here .


Robert Williams has been a sports editor for Forum Communications in Perham and Detroit Lakes since 2011.
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