Gaels escape in OT

MANSON – Much like a heavyweight title fight, St. Edmond and East Sac County traded late punches in a Class 2A, District 3 final here Tuesday night.

When the buzzer sounded, the Gaels (17-6 overall) were left standing with a 62-60 overtime victory, avenging last year’s double OT district final loss to the Raiders.

“I was proud of how our kids responded (Tuesday),” SEHS head coach Adolph Kochendorfer said. “This was a really good win against a good team. We didn’t play very well in the first half. I told our guys they needed to pick it up defensively, or they could get blown out of the water.

“I thought we guarded and rebounded much better in the second half, though, which was a big key to our comeback.”

Seeking their 14th state bid in school history, including their seventh since 2004 alone, the Gaels will now face South Hamilton (20-3) in a Substate 2 final on Saturday at 7 p.m. in Webster City.

The Hawks advanced Tuesday with a 55-43 triumph over Roland-Story.

In a wild last 11 minutes that featured 16 different ties and lead changes, St. Edmond used a clutch triple from junior Matthew Bocken to send the game into an extra session. Down by a single hoop on two different occasions in the bonus frame, the Gaels reeled off a mini 6-0 burst and never looked back.

“We felt pretty good about our chances once we got to overtime,” said Kochendorfer. “It was important not to let (East Sac County) get two baskets in a row. We wanted to make them play from behind, which we were able to do.”

Bocken tied a career-high with 20 points for the Gaels, going 5-for-8 outside the arc. Classmate Landon Peed contributed 17 points and five assists, while senior Robby Burke added his 21st double-double of the year with 15 points and 14 boards. Twelve of Burke’s points came in the second half.

“This (win) feels pretty good,” Bocken said. “We didn’t want to have our season end against (the Raiders) again.”

St. Edmond trailed by as many as 14 early in the second quarter. Following a 26-12 run, the Gaels eventually knotted the game on a Peed 3-pointer at the 6:42 mark of the third. Harrison Mayer, a sophomore, also hit pivotal back-to-back longballs midway through the fourth, helping SEHS to a brief five-point advantage.

“Harrison stepped up and hit a couple of huge threes for us,” said Kochendorfer. “He did that before during the (regular-season) when we needed some scoring, too.”

Two Justin Kraft free throws gave the Raiders a 50-47 edge in the waning moments of regulation, setting the stage for Bocken’s heroics. After calling a timeout with just 5.7 seconds left, Burke found a wide-open Bocken on the wing for a perfectly executed inbounds play.

“Our guys seemed to be kind of down in the huddle, but I knew all we needed was a three,” Bocken said. “Harrison set a good screen, and (the ball) felt pretty good coming out of my hand. I thought it was going in the whole way.”

As a team, the Gaels went 10-for-22 from downtown. SEHS was only 10 of 20 at the charity stripe, including 6-for-11 in OT.

All-stater and South Dakota State signee Reed Tellinghuisen delivered a game-high 21 points, five rebounds, four assists, three steals and three blocks for the Raiders (19-4), before fouling out in the final minute of overtime.

“(Tellinghuisen) is going to get his points,” said Kochendorfer. “We just tried to make things as tough as possible on him.”

Justin Kraft also tallied 18 points and seven boards for East Sac County. Kraft’s potential game-winning desperation heave fell short as the game ended.

Tellinghuisen, Kraft and Shawn Freier all wrapped up their careers on the hardwood for the Raiders, who saw their seven-game winning streak halted.

“I was proud of how our kids fought (last night),” said ESC head coach Todd Bontrager. “Our goal was to get to state this year, but we can’t hang our heads. We had a very special group of seniors.”