MANKATO - The previous matchup between the Marshall Tigers and the Mankato West Scarlets had MSH in control from the get-go.
When there is a section championship on the line, Thursday night's chapter proved to be much more of a fight.
Leading by just four points at the half and after blowing an 11-point lead with 3 minutes, 50 seconds left in regulation, Marshall held off Mankato West 68-64 in overtime Thursday to win the Class 3A Section 2 Tournament championship and secure the Tigers' second straight berth in the MSHSL quarterfinals.
Photo by David Merrill
The Marshall Tigers celebrate with the Class 3A Section 2 Tournament championship trophy after defeating the Mankato West Scarlets 68-64 in overtime Thursday at Minnesota State University’s Taylor Center.
Marshall’s Reece Winkelman blocks a shot attempted by Mankato West’s Jake Dale in the first half as Tiger teammate Drew Hmielewski also defends the play.
Photo by David Merrill
Marshall’s Connor Winkelman has the ball against a Mankato West defender Thursday at Minnesota State University’s Taylor Center.
Riley Sharbono finished with 22 points after scoring just two in the first half and Connor Winkleman added 21 points for Marshall, which improved to. Drew Hmielewski chipped in 11 points and came up with the game-winning play.
Marshall recorded the victory when the sophomore guard came up with a big steal as the Tigers were hanging on to a two-point (66-64) lead. He was fouled and sank both free throws with less than 1 second left to seal the section championship for the Tigers.
Hmielewski has shown that he is made for these late game situations, especially at the defensive end.
"That's a good question," Hmielewski said when asked about his success in late-game situations. "I guess, I'm just in the right place at the right time."
For Marshall head coach Travis Carroll, Hmielewski's timing late in the game is more than just luck and placement.
Carroll feels Hmielewski has three very important qualities that make him a successful player.
"He's very strong, he's very athletic and he has very good instincts," Carroll said. "That is a very good combination for late game situations. It was his instincts on that play that made it happen."
This victory marks the first time in school history that MHS has qualified for the state tournament in back-to-back seasons.
The Tigers had a 57-46 lead with 3:50 to go before the Scarlets came up with a 3-pointer and two steals that led to transition layups before Mankato West tied the score at 57.
The Scarlets tied the game again at 60 with two free throws with a little more than 50 seconds remaining. The Tigers ran the clock down before Sharbono's jumper went begging off the rim, sending the game to overtime.
The two teams traded baskets in overtime before Hmielewski came up with the steal.
Jake Dale finished as the Scarlets leading scorer with 16 points to go with 14 from Tyler Stoffel, 10 from Braedan Myers and eight from Steven Nessler.
Despite handling the Scarlets easily in their first matchup, the Tigers knew that the section championship game was going to be a different story.
"They didn't give us their best shot the first time around," Sharbono said. "We knew coming in here that it was going to be a battle. They are a lot better team than they were the first time we played them."
One other person on the floor who saw a difference in Mankato West was its coach Tom Boone.
He knew Marshall was the No. 1 seed for a reason and was proud of the way his team battled.
"You can't discount my kids effort," Boone said. "Marshall is a very good team and we knew that we had a tough test in front of us. I'm proud of my guys for their effort. They fought hard but, in the end, Marshall was able to make a few more plays than us. We couldn't quite get enough possessions where we had the lead. There was a lot of times they had the ball with a tie game or a two-point lead. We couldn't quite get over the hump enough."
The Tigers were able to put together a victory despite being outrebounded 31-18, but outdeuled the Scarlets 11-4 in assists.
Marshall only has one other game this season decided by five points or less and it won that won as well, beating Sioux Falls Washington 58-56 in overtime. The Tigers feature just two seniors in their starting lineup in C.D. Douglas and Sharbono and four on the entire team. MHS has seven juniors on the squad, so it is a squad of upperclassmen.
That's something that is helping build team unity and helping the Tigers come away with close wins when they need to. It was the case once again in this one.
"We had to fight and earn this one," Hmielewski said. "That makes a lot more meaningful. We came together as a team in this one and got it done. It was a lot of fun."
State tournament match-ups, including times and locations will be announced by the MSHSL early next week as Marshall will play Wednesday.
CLASS?3A SECTION 2 TOURNAMENT
At Minnesota State, Taylor Center
MARSHALL 68, MANKATO WEST 64, OT
MANKATO WEST (18-9 OVERALL): Jake Dale 6-9 4-6 16, Jake Makela 2-5 1-1 6, Tyler Stoffel 5-9 2-2 14, Carter Burmeister 0-4 4-4 4, Alex Goettl 0-1 0-0 0, Jonah Boone 0-0 0-0 0, Matt Braun 2-5 0-0 6, Ryan Schlichte 0-0 0-0 0, Steven Nessler 2-4 4-4 8, Braedan Myers 5-8 0-0 10. TOTALS: 22-45 (49%) 15-17 (89%) 64.
MARSHALL (24-4 OVERALL): Bryce Johnson 1-1 2-2 4, C.D. Douglas 2-5 2-2 6, Reece Winkelman 2-6 0-1 4, Noah Winkelman 0-2 0-0 0, Connor Winkelman 6-8 7-11 21, Andrew Hmielewski 4-6 3-4 11, Riley Sharbono 8-13 4-4 22, Jordan Schroeder 0-1 0-0 0. TOTALS: 23-42 (55%) 18-24 (75%) 68.
HALFTIME: Marshall 33, Mankato West 29. REGULATION: Marshall 60, Mankato West 60. 3-POINT FIELD GOALS: Mankato West 5-15 (Stoffel 2, Braun 2, Makela); Marshall 4-10 (C. Winkelman 2, Sharbono 2). REBOUNDS: Mankato West 31 (Dale 9); Marshall 18 (R. Winkelman 5, Sharbono 5). TOTAL FOULS (FOULED OUT): Mankato West 21 (none); Marshall 18 (none). TECHNICAL FOULS: Myers. ASSISTS: Mankato West 7 (Dale 3); Marshall 11 (C. Winkelman 4). STEALS: Mankato West 4 (Makela, Stoffel, Burmeister Braun); Marshall 7 (Douglas 3). BLOCKED SHOTS: Mankato West 2 (Dale, Myers); Marshall 1 (Sharbono). TURNOVERS: Mankato West 13; Marshall 9.