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Bluejays lose a nail-biter; Lady Jays win and contemplate the playoffs

After winning an overtime game on the road against Dakota County on Tuesday, the Minnesota West men’s basketball team returned home on Wednesday to fall 62-61 to MState-Fergus Falls in a battle that went down to the very last shot.

032421 N DG Minnesota West Ladyjays vs M State-Fergus Falls S1.jpg
Minnesota West LadyJays Mallory Thorson (25) takes a layup in past M State-Fergus Falls Spartans Jayna Gronewold (1) in a Wednesday afternoon game in Worthington 03 24 21. (Tim Middagh/The Globe)

WORTHINGTON -- After winning an overtime game on the road against Dakota County on Tuesday, the Minnesota West men’s basketball team returned home on Wednesday to fall 62-61 to MState-Fergus Falls in a battle that went down to the very last shot.

Wednesday’s game ended the season for the Bluejays, but their counterparts are still playing. The Lady Jays used a strong second-half comeback Wednesday to thwart Fergus Falls 71-62, and they’ll play their final regular season game Saturday (March 27) at home (1 p.m.) against Rochester.

The women will participate in the postseason playoffs. Saturday’s game may have an impact on seeding for the upcoming tournament.

The Wednesday wrapup:

Women

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Lady Jays 71, MState-Fergus Falls 62

Mallory Thorson scored 20 points for Minnesota West and generally ran the floor in similar fashion to when she was a star at Luverne High School. The Lady Jay freshman helped her team outscore the Spartans 44-27 in the second half.

Thorson has had an up-and-down season, much like her teammates. After Wednesday’s game she said she was too hard on herself at times, and since she’s a freshman she’s been a little bit unsure of how much she should take on by herself on the court.

But her coaches have been telling her to take more shots and to show more confidence, and against Fergus Falls she did just that. She was 7-for-15 from the field, which included a 3-for-5 3-point shooting effort.

As a team, the Jays didn’t take over Wednesday’s game until early in the fourth quarter. With just over four minutes remaining, they led 61-49. Suddenly, the Spartans crept to within striking distance by nailing a pair of 3-point shots, and it was 61-55 with 3:20 left. Twenty seconds later the West lead was a mere four points, but a 3-point shot by Shelby Christensen, then a Christensen steal on the other end and two free throws made it 66-57 with 2:09 to go. Thus, the game was effectively over.

The Lady Jay fourth quarter run seemed to come out of nowhere.

“I think if we get one good shot, the bench gets hyped and we really go from there,” Thorson said. “We took control of the game.”

Christensen and Jasmine Voehl contributed 10 points apiece for West. Voehl also had eight rebounds.

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MState-Fergus Falls 21 35 48 62

Lady Jays 16 27 50 71

MSTATE-FERGUS FALLS (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) -- Gronewold 2-5-9-25, Larson 1-1-3-8, Fronning 1-5-0-13, Evavold 0-2-1-5, Tysdal 1-2-0-7, Aamot 0-2-0-4. Totals 5-17-13-62

LADY JAYS (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) -- Thorson 3-4-3-20, Diaz 2-0-1-7, Christensen 2-0-4-10, Bernazeau 1-0-0-3, Voehl 0-3-4-10, Hunter 0-1-4-6, Rivera 0-1-2-4, Suttle 0-3-2-8, Wilke 1-0-0-3. Totals 9-12-20-71.

Men

MState-Fergus Falls 62, Bluejays 61

The last three minutes were a thrilling display of punches and counter-punches.

Trailing 59-56 with 2:21 to play, West took possession of the ball but missed a 3-pointer. But Round Lake freshman Isaac Ihnen made a steal on the other end of the floor and was fouled at 1:25 while going in for what would have been a sure layup.

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An intentional foul was called, and Ihnen calmly swished two free throws. West then made an in-bounds pass with a chance to take the lead but was unable to get off a shot before a foul was called on the Bluejays’ Elijah Williams.

Still trailing with about 40 seconds remaining, the Jays missed two shots inside. With 15.8 seconds left, Fergus Falls’ Renell Edwards made both ends of a 1-and-1 and the score was 62-58. Just 6.9 seconds remained when Ihnen swished a 3-point shot while moving to his left, bringing the score to 62-61. Moments later, the Spartans’ Kellen Hinsz was on the line with 04.4 showing, but he missed two free throws.

The Bluejays in-bounded the ball on the far end, then called a quick time-out so they could in-bound it again in the halfcourt. Just 2.3 seconds remained. After Fergus Falls called a time-out to set up its defense, Ihnen tossed it in, secured a pass from a teammate and attempted another 3-pointer -- and missed.

West defeated Dakota County on Tuesday 94-88 in OT. Another nail-biting finish would have ended the season on a strong note. But it wasn’t to be.

The Bluejays’ Ty-Shawn Bryant, who provided a much-needed spark for the home team in the second half, finished with 13 points, Isaak Williams scored 10 points and Cornelius Wright added nine. Elijah Williams and Bryant each had eight rebounds. Courtney Ligon had five assists.

MState-Fergus Falls 32 62

Bluejays 24 61

MSTATE-FERGUS FALLS (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) -- Edwards 1-0-7-10, Taylor 0-2-3-7, Cresap 2-0-0-6, Hinsz 2-3-1-13, Pearson 1-2-0-7, Ross-Childs 3-3-4-19. Totals 9-10-15-62.

BLUEJAYS (3FG-2FG-DT-TP) -- Ligon 1-0-3-6, Wright 0-4-1-9, Ihnen 1-0-3-6, Barber 0-0-0-0, E.Williams 0-3-1-7, Nyail 1-1-2-7, Feit 0-1-1-3, Bryant 0-6-1-13, I.Williams 2-2-0-10. Totals 5-17-12-61.

032421 N DG Minnesota West Bluejays vs M State-Fergus Falls Spartans S2.jpg
Minnesota West Bluejays Elijah Williams (34) makes a layup shot for 2 points past M State-Fergus Falls Spartans Kellen Hinsz (5) during Wednesday evening game in Worthington 03 24 21. (Tim Middagh/The Globe)

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