MARSHALL - Entering the Class A Section 3 Tournament championship as the underdogs, the Lancers knew it would take nothing short of a miracle to defeat the defending state champion Southwest Minnesota Christian.
The Lancers outlasted the Eagles in an all-out fight to the finish during a 66-59 victory.
"I can't believe it," said Canby's Michael Slaba, who led CHS with 21 points. "Miracles truly happen."
Photo by Lauren?Beukelman
Canby’s Miles Schmitz hugs teammate Nathan Cooper after the Lancers defeated Southwest Minnesota Christian to win the Class A Section 3 Tournament title Thursday.
Photo by Lauren Beukelman
Canby’s Kristian Leppke controls the ball against a Southwest Minnesota Christian defender during the Class A Section 3 Tournament championship game Thursday at Southwest Minnesota State University’s R/A Facility.
After losing Zach Nuy to appendicitis on Monday, Canby came into the game short one of the Lancers leading scorers and a crucial part of the Canby defense.
"We lost a very good player who has had a huge part of our season," Slaba said.
Southwest Minnesota Christian's head coach Jamie Pap was concerned about how the Lancers would react to losing a key player.
"When we found out Nuy was sick that scared me because a wounded team is a very dangerous team," Pap said. "We didn't get excited and take them for granted by any means and the other guys stepped up for them and Canby played a great game."
Sophomore Nick Prokop stepped in for the Lancers, getting his first meaningful varsity minutes in Canby's biggest game of the year.
"Not many teams have a 6-foot-9 guy that can come in and help out," said Canby head coach Jon Hanson. "He did a wonderful job in there."
The Lancers came out hot in the first half, controlling the tempo of the game from the tipoff. Canby grabbed a 9-3 lead as Nick Prokop recorded a block on the defensive end and Josh Gallegos finished a three-point play on the offensive end.
Clayton Huisken answered with a steal for the Eagles, finishing with an open layup. SWMC'sNate Pfeifle knocked down a 3-pointer to tie the Lancers at 16.
Slaba responded, driving to the basket on back-to-back possessions to put the Lancers back on top. But the Eagles' Leighton Sampson had a different idea in mind, leading a personal 12-6 run, as SWMC tied the score at 30 at halftime.
The Lancers entered the second half having to play cautiously with three players in foul trouble and a shallow bench to rely on.
Kristian Leppke set the tone by making a steal, finishing the layup and converting a three-point play. The Lancers continued to thrive on offense, pushing their lead to as many as nine points midway through the second half.
But Canby's defense was the story of the night, holding down a typically dominant offensive team to just 29 points in the second half. Despite having three players in foul trouble, the Lancers were able to defend both the middle and the Eagles on the perimeter, allowing only two 3-pointers in the game.
Josh Gallegos came out of a recent slump to score 19 points for Canby.
"I have been struggling the last couple of games," Gallegos said. "I felt like I really needed one and my teammates were really there for me."
The Lancers will make their first state appearance since 1951 after winning their first section championship in 63 years.
"When you get this far and you have something happen to us like it did the boys could have hung their heads and said we cant do this but from the get-go they never did," Lancers head coach Jon Hanson said.
Canby dedicated the win to the loss of Jake Hanson, the son of its head coach, who died from cancer in June 2013.
"It was really our theme to play more than the game and that's what we did today," Jon Hanson said.
CLASS?A SECTION 3 TOURNAMENT
CANBY 66, SOUTHWEST MINNESOTA CHRISTIAN 59
SOUTHWEST CHRISTIAN (25-3 OVERALL): Sampson 11-6-28, Pfeifle 5-2-15, Huisken 3-0-7, DeBoer 1-3-5, Nibbelink 1-2-4. TOTALS: 21-13-59.
CANBY (25-4 OVERALL) Slaba 7-6-21, Gallegos 8-3-19, Leppke 5-1-12, Johanson 3-1-8, Prokup 2-0-4, Cooper 1-0-2. TOTALS: 26-11-66.
HALFTIME: Canby 30, Southwest Minnesota 30. 3-POINT FIELD GOALS: Southwest Minnesota Christian 4 (Pfeifle 3, Huisken); Canby 3 (Slaba, Leppke, Johanson). REBOUNDS: Canby 30 (Leppke); Southwest Minnesota Christian (not reported). TOTAL FOULS (FOULED OUT): Canby 17 (Prokop); Southwest Minnesota Christian 20 (Pfeifle). TECHNICAL FOULS: None. ASSISTS: Canby 15 (Slaba 7); Southwest Minnesota Christian (not reported). STEALS: Canby 12 (Slaba 4); Southwest Minnesota Christian (not reported). BLOCKED SHOTS: Canby 5 (Prokop 3); Southwest Minnesota Christian (not reported). TURNOVERS: Canby 19; Southwest Minnesota Christian (not reported).