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HLWW edges Thunder Hawks with late surge

Eric Brandon, center, of Montevideo passes to a teammate between Howard Lake-Waverly/Winsted's Zach Grangroth, left, and Keith Diers Wednesday at Williams Arena. Tribune photos by Rand Middleton1 / 2
Jake Douglas, left, of Montevideo, soars to the basket for a layup against Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted Wednesday at Williams Arena. Tribune photo by Rand Middleton2 / 2

MINNEAPOLIS -- Montevideo has won some heartstoppers this season, but not this time.

Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted cut down the Thunder Hawks in the last seconds, 47-45 at Williams Arena.

With the crowd on its feet, the score tied, and 6.6 showing on the clock, the Lakers inbounded from the side, near center court, with the ball going over the top of the Montevideo defense directly to 6-7 Jeff Hammer.

The senior center took a step toward the basket, pumped once, then laid it up softly over Montevideo's defensive bulwark Jeff Jerve to break the tie with 3.5 seconds left.

The Thunder Hawks had pulled out dramatic last-second wins over Willmar and New London-Spicer earlier this season, but with more time left than this game.

The Lakers set up in a press and the ball was thrown deep toward Jake Douglas, but it never connected as players on both sides sprawled on the floor.

The loss eliminated Montevideo (21-8) in the first round of the Class AA State Tournament for the second year in a row. After heavy graduation losses, it seemed a plus just to get back to the final eight.

The Lakers (23-7), who were the Class A runners-up 30 years ago to Lake City, will meet top-ranked Pelican Rapids in the semifinals at the Target Center tonight.

Montevideo led 24-15 at halftime.

"Give them credit," said Montevideo first-year head coach Dan Douglas. "They got a lot more aggressive the second half and we just didn't score. Maybe, it was their defense. We kept battling, we hustled all the time and had that big shot to tie it."

The Lakers led 45-43 with a minute left. Freshman Jake Douglas, from the top of the key, hit a jumper to knot the score at 45-all.

The Lakers worked the clock down and took a time out with 14 seconds. Montevideo, which had two fouls to give and gave up one at 6.6.

After at HLWW timeout, Keith Diers looped the ball to Hammer on the right side of the Lakers' basket. He used his two-inch height advantage to shoot over Jerve.

Scoring for the Thunder Hawks was led by seniors Eric Brandon and Jeff Jerve, with 16 and 12, respectively, plus each taking down 11 rebounds. After that it was freshman Jake Douglas with eight points, senior Brock Ackerman with seven and freshman Brett Bergeson with two.

The senior-strong Lakers got 14 points from Nash Faulk and 11 each from Eddie Wessling and Hammer. Zach Grangroth was good for 11 rebounds and Hammer had four blocks.

The score was knotted 10-10 when baskets by Dougles, Jerve and Brandon hoisted the Section 3AA champs into a 16-10 lead. It got to 11 points, 14-13, on a layup by Ackerman before Hammer's jumper closed out the first-half scoring.

The Lakers began making inroads but the lead was still seven, 39-32, with just over 10 minutes left. A three-pointer by Diers, another senior, drew the Lakers to within two, 39-37. Jerve bucked inside for a bucket but Hammer answered, and after a steal, Faulk scored on a fastbreak, drew a foul, and the three-point play put the Lakers ahead for the first time since the game's second minute.

Brandon's layup put Montevideo up again, 43-42, but Wessling's jump shot put the Lakers ahead, 44-43. His free throw made it 45-43 with 1:21 remaining, but Douglas tied it 45-45 with 47 seonds left.

Down 47-45 with less than four ticks left, there just wasn't time for the coast-to-coast rush that Brandon has executed in last-second wins over New London-Spicer and Willmar.

It's too bad, it would have been something to see on the Barn floor.

HLWW 47, Montevideo 45

Montevideo (21-8) 24 21 -- 45

HLWW (23-7) 15 32 -- 47

MONTEVIDEO - 21-58 FG (2-11 3-pt); 1-2 FT; 38 rebounds; 11 fouls ... Scoring: Eric Brandon 16, Brock Ackerman 7, Brett Bergeson 2, Jeff Jerve 12, Jake Douglas 8 ... 3-point shots: Brandon 2 ... Rebound leaders: Brandon 11, Jerve 11 ... Assist leaders: Jerve 5 ... Steal leaders: none

HOWARD LAKE-WAVERLY-WINSTED - 20-53 FG (2-13 3-pt); 5-10 FT; 35 rebounds; 9 fouls ... Scoring: Nash Faulk 14, Eddie Wessling 11, Jeff Hammer 11, Zach Grangroth 4, Keith Diers 7 ... 3-point shots: Faulk 1, Diers 1 ... Rebound leaders: Faulk 8, Grangroth 11 ... Assist leaders: Hammer 4, Diers 4 ... Steal leaders: none