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Montevideo's Eric Brandon, center, comes away with a defensive rebound late in the Section 3AA-North championship and heads up court while fleeing Tyler Dammann, left, and Seth Hinrichs Saturday in Redwood Falls. Brandon led Montevideo with 17 points and seven rebounds. Tribune photo by Rand Middleton

Montevideo stuns MACCRAY

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sports Willmar, 56201
Willmar Minnesota 2208 Trott Ave. SW / P.O. Box 839 56201

REDWOOD FALLS -- A 14-1 Montevideo run to end the game propelled the Thunder Hawks to a 61-53 victory over MACCRAY on Saturday night in the Section 3AA North boys basketball final.

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With five minutes left, the top-seeded Wolverines, who came in 26-1, carried the momentum. Caleb Hanson's drive and layup with just over four minutes left completed a 9-3 MACCRAY run for a 52-47 lead.

But the time left belonged to Montevideo (20-7), who will play Windom (17-10) at 8 p.m. on Thursday at Southwest Minnesota State in Marshall.

The defending section champions began their rally with two free throws by center Jeff Jerve, who finished with 12 points and 13 rebounds.

Jerve then handed off to sophomore forward Ryan Boike for the two biggest baskets of this showdown, watched by 2,400 fans at Redwood Valley High School.

Boike drained a three-pointer from the side with 2:52 left to tie the game at 52-52. A minute later, from the same spot, he hit again for a 55-52 Montevideo lead.

"They double teamed me," said the Jerve, a 6-foot-5 senior. "That left Boike wide open on the three-point line."

At the other end, MACCRAY went cold.

Leading by three with 1:12 left, Montevideo didn't change its game plan. Eric Brandon drove the lane, slicing between Jay Hilbrands and Seth Hinrichs and drew the foul. He made both free throws for a 57-52 lead.

"We keep on pressing," said Brandon when suggested some teams would stall with a three-point lead. "We attack no matter what. We'd rather lose that way than lose because we didn't do anything."

The winners closed it out at the free-throw line.

"At the end, our shots just wouldn't fall and theirs did," said MACCRAY head coach Gary Nelsen. "Monte is a nice team with good senior leadership and those good young kids."

MACCRAY had beat the Thunder Hawks 63-51 on Feb. 10 at Clara City.

Trailing 31-25, the Wolverines seized the momentum in the second half. A three-pointer by Tyler Dammann cut the Montevideo lead to 33-32 and another trey, this time by Shaun Condon, tied it 35-all.

Hanson then drove for two points and MACCRAY's first lead, 37-35, with 13:00 left. MACCRAY kept attacking and mounted a 50-44 lead with about six minutes left, but only one more field-goal attempt would fall in the time remaining.

"It's really disappointing. You never want it to end," said Dammann, one of four MACCRAY seniors. "We came out strong in the second half, putting more pressure on the ball. But they were executing all night."

"Give them credit," said Montevideo's first-year head coach Dan Douglas. "They're a great team moving the ball and with so many guys that can get it done."

Hinrichs, a sophomore, finished with a game-high 22 points followed by Condon and Dammann with 11 each.

Brandon hit 10 of 15 at the line and finished with 17 points. Boike followed with 13 points.

Brock Ackerman hit Montevideo's first five points on two long baseline shots and then didn't score again.

"There was a lot of emotion (playing MACCRAY)," said Ackerman, noting the huge crowd. "But what a blast."

Montevideo 61, MACCRAY 53

Montevideo (20-7) 31 30 -- 61

MACCRAY (26-2) 25 28 -- 53

MONTEVIDEO - 26-38 FG (6-11 3-pt); 13-21 FT; 29 rebounds; 16 fouls ... Scoring: Eric Brandon 17, Tom Grages 2, Ryan Boike 13, Brock Ackerman 5, Brett Bergeson 4, Jeff Jerve 12, Jake Douglas 8 ... 3-point shots: Boike 3, Brandon 1, Ackerman 1 ... Rebound leaders: Jerve 13, Brandon 7 ... Assist leader: Brandon 6 ... Steal leaders: none

MACCRAY - 20-44 FG (4-16 3-pt); 9-16 FT; 22 rebounds; 20 fouls ... Scoring: Shaun Condon 11, Jay Hilbrands 2, Tyler Dammann 11, Darrin Caspers 3, Seth Hinrichs 22, Caleb Hanson 4 ... 3-point shots: Dammann 2, Condon 1, Hinrichs 1 ... Rebound leaders: Hinrichs 6, Hilbrands 6 ... Assist leaders: Dammann 4, Dylan Aeikens 4 ... Steal leaders: none

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