The West Central Area Knights defeated the hometown Pelican Rapids Vikings 81-77 in double overtime to claim the Minnesota National Bank Holiday Classic Boys Basketball Tournament Championship for the second year in a row. The Knights won in overtime last year as well vs. Warroad.
The Knights were down big early as the Vikings jumped out to a 16-5 lead. The Knights battled back to tie it at 31-31 at halftime.
At the end of regulation with the Knights leading 62-59, the Vikings Nick Schermerhorn hit a 3-point basket to force overtime. The Knights led 69-67 at the end of the first overtime when Oakley Kress scored with 1.2 seconds left to force the second overtime.
The Knights were able to hit 8 of their last ten free throws to seal the win in the second overtime.
Knights coach Kraig Hunter said, "What an atmosphere and exciting game for fans. Neither team deserved to lose as both our kids and the Pelican Rapids kids made many huge plays in crucial moments. We give Pelican Rapids a lot of credit for a great battle. We lost our point guard and best defender, Brady Sabolik, who fouled out during the first overtime and our backup point guard, Jacob Bright, is out with a concussion. So for us to be able to hang on and win without our two main ball handlers and best defenders showed a lot about the rest of our team. It wasn't easy though without Brady on defense as we had no answer for the Vikings Oakley Kress. Time and time again in the overtimes he made clutch baskets."
The Knights Logan Paulson had a monster game leading the Knights with 30 points and 20 rebounds. Nathan Kaye also had a huge game and hit some baskets and key free throws in the overtimes as he finished with 14 points, 4 rebounds and 3 steals. Brady Sabolik had 12 points and 7 assists before fouling out. Logan Nadgwick had 9 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists. Dawson Staples had 8 points and 9 rebounds, Ross Anderson had 6 points, 10 rebounds, and 2 assists and Teigen Moritz added 2 points.
Hunter concluded, "In these types of wins, you need contributions from the entire team and we got that tonight as several of our players stepped up. Nathan was a huge key to the game as he came off the bench with 14 points and had a couple of key steals and key free throws down the stretch. Ross and Logan Nadgwick had to handle the ball a lot more with both of our point guards out. Colton Wutzke and Teigen Moritz gave us quality minutes off the bench. Lastly, Dawson Staples got us to this point in this tournament with a huge game on Thursday, and got us back in the game tonight with a couple of key buckets and a season high 9 rebounds."
Kress led the Vikings with 29 points, followed by Hayden Christenson with 16, Jacob Gottenborg with 12, Nick Schermerhorn with 8, Zack Sjolie 4, McHale Korf 3, Kaleb Tollefson 3, and Dillon Such 2.
“We came out and played well in the early part of the game as we jumped out to a 20-7 lead,” stated Pelican Rapids Head Coach John Gullingsrud. “We were not able to sustain that hot start, however, as the Knights slowly crept back into the game and tied it a 31 at the half. We made some plays offensively at the end of regulation and the first overtime to give ourselves a chance, but we were never able to get a big defensive stop late in the game when we needed it.”
The Knights hit 26-64 from the field for 41% and made 28-43 free throws for 65%. The Vikings made 31-72 from the field for 43% and made 6-11 free throws. The Knights held a 51-40 advantage on the boards.
"Our rebounding in this tournament was fantastic," said Hunter.