Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Heartbreak for Sibley East

I was there when the Minnesota State men's basketball team let a 16-point lead slip away in the regional tournament at Winona State, and I thought that might be the most stunning loss I'd ever see.
But after Sibley East lost a 20-point lead with six minutes to play and fell 60-59 in overtime to Braham in the quarterfinals of the Class AA boys basketball tournament, I have now seen a more gut-wrenching defeat.
Sibley East was cruising. Marshall Bjorklund was dominating the inside, and the defenders were harassing Braham's perimeter players. The story of victory and advancing to the semifinals was nearly written.
But that's why every laptop has a delete key.
Braham got hot from 3-point range, and a press seemed to interrupt Sibley East's rhythm. The ball stopped going inside as turnovers cut short several possessions.
As Braham crept closer, you could see that free throws would become important, and the Wolverines, who made their free throws in the section tournament at about 74 percent, were shaky.
Braham's confidence grew as Sibley East's shrank, but the Wolverines still held a one-point lead in the final seconds. However, a questionable call on Braham's final possession allowed the winning free throws, and the stunning rally was complete.
This is a loss these players will remember for the rest of their lives. Sibley East was 24-4 this season, but it's tough to lean on positives after such a shocking defeat. It's too bad that three seniors had their careers end this way.

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