Ellsworth heading to state, beats R-T-R in overtime thriller

There might be only one word to describe Thursday night's Section 3A championship game held at a packed R/A Facility on the campus of Southwest Minnesota State University.

There might be only one word to describe Thursday night's Section 3A championship game held at a packed R/A Facility on the campus of Southwest Minnesota State University.


The Ellsworth Panthers, champions of the south, scored 40 points in the final eight minutes, and rallied unbelievably to defeat two-time defending state champion Russell-Tyler-Ruthton, 83-80, in overtime.

"This is a heck of a way to end this year's rivalry," Ellsworth head coach Markus Okeson said. "This was round three, the rubber match, and for Ellsworth, it's a great way to end it."

Was it ever.


The Panthers trailed 60-43 following a steal and lay-up by R-T-R's Travis Schultz (13 points) with 4:16 remaining in the game.

That's when the Panthers started their comeback, as a 3-point play by Cody Schilling brought Ellsworth within 61-46 (R-T-R's Brett Newton had made a free throw 12 seconds earlier). Schilling then came up with a steal on R-T-R's ensuing possession before getting the ball to Nick Deutsch (four steals), who made a nice extra pass to Aaron Van Der Stoep in the left corner for a 3-pointer to make it 61-49 with 3:06 remaining.

After a pair of free throws by Newton, Schilling drilled a 3-pointer from the right wing to make it 63-52 with 2:45 left. A basket by Ben Herman was sandwiched in between three Knight free throws before Schilling recorded another 3-point play to draw Ellsworth within nine (66-57) with 1:47 to go.

Herman then came up with a steal, caused by Ellsworth's full-court pressure before scoring on a put-back bucket following a missed 3-pointer by Van Der Stoep (15 points, four assists). Newton then made one-of-two free throws before Schilling scored on a drive to make it 67-61 with 1:15 showing on the clock.

After R-T-R's Zach Sorensen went one-for-two from the line, Schilling again scored on a drive.

Leading 68-63 with 59 seconds remaining, R-T-R received four free throws from Newton to counter a Bryan Kramer 3-pointer to leave the score at 72-66 with 36.9 seconds remaining.

Herman then drilled a trey before Newton went one-of-two from the line, making the score 73-69 with 23.7 seconds left.

Thirteen seconds later, Van Der Stoep hit a tough 3-pointer to bring the Panthers within one. Ellsworth quickly fouled Newton (who went 14-for-19 from the line in the second half) with 8.2 seconds to go, and the senior responded by sinking both free throws to put R-T-R up 75-72.


Schilling, who scored 29 of his team-high 39 points in the second half and overtime combined, brought the ball down for the Panthers before getting it to Herman at the top of the key.

With time winding down, Herman let the ball fly with a hand right in his face. The ball swished its way through the net just after the buzzer had sounded, tying the game at 75-all, and sending it into overtime.

"I saw Travis Schultz coming at me with a hand up," Herman said. "I threw it up higher than his hand, and it just went in."

That shot capped Ellsworth's comeback, and sent the Panther fans into a frenzy.

In overtime, R-T-R took the early edge with a Schultz free throw just 17 seconds in.

Ellsworth then took its first lead of the game on the ensuing possession, as Schilling, who had just picked up his fourth foul (sending Schultz to the line), made a hook shot to make it 77-76 with 3:18 to go.

Newton, who scored a game-high 41 points, later made two free throws to put the Knights back on top (78-77) with 2:19 remaining.

After Herman (16 points, four assists) missed a hook shot, Newton drove in and made a great pass to Brennen Rupp underneath for a basket, putting the Knights up 80-77 with 1:38 showing on the clock.


Schilling (11 rebounds, seven assists) connected on a pair of free throws 18 seconds later before Newton lost the ball out-of-bounds after his drive to the hoop, giving Ellsworth the ball with 1:06 to go, trailing 80-79.

The Panthers patiently worked their offense, and got a good look (a Van Der Stoep 3-point attempt) with about 30 seconds left.

The shot was off the mark, but Ellsworth's Travis Chapa, who hadn't played until Kramer fouled out with 2:19 left, pulled down the rebound and went right back up for the basket, giving the Panthers an 81-80 lead.

The Knights called timeout with 27.2 seconds left to set their offense up for one last shot.

Kyle Minett (14 points) and Sorensen each had good looks at the basket in the final five seconds, but Schilling hauled down a rebound and was fouled with 0.8 seconds left.

He made both free throws to put Ellsworth up 83-80, and Weston DeBerg stole the ensuing inbounds pass, setting off the Panthers' celebration.

The comeback came after R-T-R impressively opened up (and held) a double-digit margin for most of the game.

The Knights jumped out a quick 8-2 lead, as Minett and Newton each drained treys, and Schultz scored inside.


The Panthers tied it up at 8-all following a Van Der Stoep 3-pointer, and a Schilling 3-point play.

But the talented and experienced Knights went on a 13-0 run to go up 21-8 with 11:43 left in the first half.

The Knights, who converted several steals into lay-ups throughout the game, later led 30-12, and held a 39-26 halftime advantage.

They later opened up their 60-43 lead, and it looked like the north champions would get the opportunity to try for a third state title, but the Panthers put together their amazing comeback.

Ellsworth 26 49 8 - 83

R-T-R 39 36 5 - 80

ELLSWORTH (3FG-2FG-FT-TP): DeBerg 0-2-0-4, Kramer 1-2-0-7, Schilling 2-12-9-39, Van Der Stoep 5-0-0-15, Herman 2-5-0-16, Chapa 0-1-0-2. Totals: 10-22-9-83.

R-T-R (3FG-2FG-FT-TP): Newton 3-8-16-41, Minett 2-3-2-14, Rupp 0-2-0-4, Sorensen 0-2-2-6, Sp. Kor 0-1-0-2, Schultz 0-6-1-13. Totals: 5-22-21-80.

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