EDC boys basketball: Grand Forks Central's OT buzzer-beater eliminates Sheyenne from state contention
Grand Forks Central's Cole Wilber hit a 3-pointer as time expired in overtime in a loser-out game Friday to propel the Knights into a state qualifier game and brings the Mustangs season to an end.
FARGO — As the buzzer rang out at the end of overtime, a shot from Grand Forks Central's Cole Wilber’s hands fell cleanly through the net as the game-winner and the Knights eliminated West Fargo Sheyenne on Friday in an Eastern Dakota Conference loser-out tournament game at the Sanford Health Athletic Complex.
When the shot left Cole’s hand, the Knights were down by one. The 3-pointer secured the 69-67 win.
There was probably no one more fitting end than to have the pass to Cole for the buzzer-beater come from his brother, Ross, who hit seven 3-pointers and led the Knights’ with 27 points.
“The play was for Ross to hit the shot,” Cole Wilber said. “Then he got in the lane and kicked it to me and I made it.”
Cole finished with 13 points and said he is excited about the Knights’ opportunity to play their way into the state tournament on Saturday.
“I’m pumped to play another game with these kids,” he said. “I’m looking forward to it.”
Central's Erick Paye also hit double digits with 17 points in addition to nine rebounds.
Knights coach Dan Carlson praised Ross’ awareness for getting the ball to Cole.
“We drew up a play and they guarded it pretty well,” Carlson said. “Ross just made a great play getting in the lane and kicking it out to his brother. It was great to see that red light go on when the ball went through the net.”
For Carlson and the Knights, the opportunity at one more game is not taken for granted.
“You just want to keep moving on,” he said. “We got to the game at state last year and we want to go one step farther. We can’t do that without getting to (Saturday).
“It was a muddy game, a tough game. Sheyenne played great and had a great game plan and we just gutted it out.”
The Mustangs led the majority of the game, with the Knights rubber-banding their way back into contention multiple times. Sheyenne's Barieyedum Kpeenu hit two free throws to tie the game with 7.2 seconds left and force overtime.
Sophomore Tommy Ahneman led the Mustangs with a double-double, with 18 points and 10 rebounds, while Caleb Duerr had 16 points.
Late in the game, Sheyenne coach Tim Brandt knew the Mustangs had to keep the ball out of their hands as time ticked away.
“We were hoping to get that rebound at the end because I didn’t want to give them one more opportunity with the way they were shooting the ball in the second half,” Brandt said. “I felt like if it came down to one more play, the way they were shooting, it was going to swing their way.
“We defended well. They just made a real tough, long shot. They just made one more play than we did tonight.”
Reflecting on the season, Brandt said he is happy with how his team rebounded following the departure of nine seniors last season.
“At the varsity level there was a lot of new faces,” he said. “They’ve all grown so much together throughout this season. In our first 11 games, I think we were 3-8 and in that back half, I think we were 9-5. We came a long way as a group. But that’s what happens when you have a group of really coachable kids.”
The Grand Forks Central Knights will play in a state qualifier Saturday afternoon at 2:30.
GF Central 25 32 12 — 69
WF Sheyenne 30 27 10 — 67
GF Central — R. Wilber 27, Paye 17, C. Wilber 13, Simmers 8, Bruce 4.
WF Sheyenne — Ahneman 18, Duerr 16, Clemenson 9, Beyl 7, Kpeenu 7, Olson 4, Ihry 4, Angau 2.