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Patriots edge Dragons, 60-59

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Patriots edge Dragons, 60-59
Worthington Minnesota 300 11th Street / P.O. Box 639 56187

WORTHINGTON -- Making key plays down the stretch Monday night, the Hills-Beaver Creek Patriots survived a last-second shot to edge the Adrian Dragons, 60-59, in a thrilling Section 3A South boys' basketball quarterfinal game.

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The fourth-seeded Patriots (13-13) advance to the Section 3A South semifinals, where they will square off with the top-seeded Ellsworth Panthers Thursday in Worthington at 6 p.m.

The fifth-seeded Dragons finish with a record of 12-12.

"We had a lot of guys come up with some key plays tonight," H-BC head coach Steve Wiertzema said. "We were more patient in the second half, got some nice offensive rebounds and played pretty good defense against a tough team."

Adrian led for most of the second half, as a smooth drive to the hoop by Jesse Brake gave the Dragons a 46-43 lead with 7:48 to play.

H-BC's Halden Van Wyhe (15 points) knocked down a 15-footer from the left baseline to pull the Patriots within one 30 seconds later. Teammate Cody Rozeboom (nine rebounds) then scored on an athletic putback basket to give the Patriots a 47-46 lead with 6:54 to play.

Terence Reid later hustled for an offensive rebound and stepped out to stroke a 3-pointer from the right wing to make it 50-46 with just under six minutes play.

Adrian's Ajuda Alwal answered with a 3-pointer of his own before Ryan Lonneman (21 points) scored on a drive to give the Dragons a 51-50 lead with 4:23 left.

Van Wyhe then sparked the Patriots, as he hit two free throws to precede a 3-pointer from the left wing -- following good ball rotation -- to make it 55-51 H-BC with 3:45 left.

Aaron Esselink's putback basket with 2:54 left put the Patriots up by six, but Lonneman scored on a nifty spin move to the baseline to bring the Dragons back within four 34 seconds later.

Van Wyhe then made a layup following a steal by Rozeboom to make it 59-53 with 2:04 to play, but Adrian scored the next six points to tie the game at 59-all with 44 seconds left.

It was Lonneman and Brian Tjepkes (15 points) fueling the Dragons, as Lonneman hit a turnaround jumper before Tjepkes sank a pair of free throws. Tjepkes then came up with a steal and made a great lead pass to Lonneman for a layup to knot the score.

Van Wyhe was fouled with 29 seconds left, and he made the first free throw of a 1-and-1 opportunity to make it 60-59 Patriots.

Adrian's Danny Parsley missed a reverse layup with with 20 seconds left, and the Patriots secured the rebound and called a timeout with 17.5 seconds remaining.

Esselink went to the line with 13.1 seconds left, but missed the front end of a 1-and-1 situation -- giving the Dragons one last chance to win the game.

Following a timeout with 4.1 seconds left, Lonneman drove down the lane. His 10-foot jumper from the right baseline was well-contested and it fell short just before the buzzer sounded to seal the victory for H-BC.

Esselink (eight rebounds) scored in a variety of ways to net 22 of his game-high 30 points in the first half -- including H-BC's first 12 points to key the Patriots to a 12-9 lead seven minutes in.

"Aaron had a really big first half for us," Wiertzema said. "Adrian went to a zone in the second half, and then some of our other guys got involved and came up big for us."

H-BC later led 16-14 before Tjepkes ignited the Dragons with back-to-back 3-pointers -- one from the right corner and one from way out top which he converted into a four-point play -- to give Adrian a 21-16 lead with 6:03 to play.

After Van Wyhe made a layup, Tjepkes was again fouled on a 3-point attempt, and he dropped in all three free throws to make it 24-18 with 4:46 left.

Lonneman later scored two straight inside hoops to help the Dragons to a 28-22 lead, but Esselink scored five consecutive points to pull the Patriots back to within one (28-27) at halftime.

Rozeboom started the second half with a coast-to-coast steal and layup before Adrian -- keyed by a putback bucket and a 3-pointer from Parsley -- went on a 7-0 run to go up 35-29 with 15:24 to play.

A dandy ally-oop inbounds pass from Adam Finke (three assists) to Rozeboom capped a 6-0 H-BC burst, and the game was tied at 35-all with 13:34 left.

Adrian outscored H-BC 11-8 over the next six minutes, as Brake's bucket gave the Dragons a 46-43 lead with 7:48 to play -- setting up the exciting back-and-forth action down the stretch.

Adrian 28 31 -- 59

H-BC 27 33 -- 60

Adrian (3FG-2FG-FT-TP): Alwal 1-0-0-3, Lonneman 0-9-3-21, Tjepkes 3-0-6-15, Parsley 1-3-0-9, Brake 0-1-1-3, Oertli 0-4-0-8. Totals: 5-17-10-59.

H-BC (3FG-2FG-FT-TP): Van Wyhe 2-3-3-15, Reid 1-0-2-5, Rozeboom 0-3-0-6, Finke 0-1-0-2, Scholten 0-1-0-2, Esselink 0-12-6-30. Totals: 3-20-11-60.

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