After a first-round win over Melstone at the state C boys basketball tournament, the District 9C Big Sandy Pioneers suffered two consecutive devastating losses to end the 2012-13 season.
The Pioneers entered the tournament as the No. 2 seed out of the North and quickly found themselves one game away from the title game. But after a very unfortunate loss at the buzzer in the semifinals on Friday, and another loss in loser-out action on Saturday, the Pioneers great postseason run finally came to an end. On Friday the Westby/Grenora Thunder defeated the Pioneers 55-52. And on Saturday the Fairview Warriors defeated the Pioneers 72-58.
Big Sandy finished the season with an overall record of 17-12.
Saturday’s loss was extra tough to swallow because the Pioneers season came to an end after a very slow start against the Warriors.
Big Sandy attempted to battle back in the fourth quarter, but ran out of momentum and time. The Warriors led 58-32 after three quarters of play, but the Pioneers made a run in the final frame. To start the fourth quarter the Pioneers went on a 14-1 run. Jerry Hanson got things rolling with three-pointer and Jesse Bailey followed with the same with less than five minutes left to play. After trialing by as many as 28 points just moments before, the Pioneers closed the gap to 59-46 with 3:46 left to play.
But the Pioneers weren’t able to close the gap anymore, as the Warriors outscored the Pioneers 13-12 to finish the game, as free throws really came into play. Bailey fouled out at the 5:12 mark, but Hanson and Kaden Beck also fouled out late in the game as the Pioneers put the Warriors on the line and they were able to hit the foul shots to keep the Pioneers at bay.
The Pioneers were slow out of the gate. They trailed 22-4 after the first quarter and 42-14 at the half. Big Sandy just shot 36 percent, 18-for-48 from the field and 17 percent, 3-for-17, from behind the 3-point arc. They couldn’t keep pace with the likes of Justin Bieber of Fairview who was 5-of-9 from 3-point range and had 15 points in the first half.
Big Sandy eventually clawed their way back into contention, but didn’t quite achieve the win. Zac Leader finished the game with 22 points and 10 rebounds for his second double-double of the weekend, while Trevor Lackner followed with 16 points. Hanson finished with 11 as well.
On Friday, the Pioneers suffered a crushing loss that had fans from both sided shocked and amazed.
The Pioneers were playing very well and looked poised, to if not find a way to win late, fight for a win in overtime. The Pioneers held a solid nine point lead heading into the fourth quarter. But after the Thunder knocked down five treys in a span of about four minutes, the Thunder held a 51-50 lead with 1:24 left in the contest. With eight seconds left to play the Thunder lead was 52-50. Leader grabbed a clutch rebound for the Pioneers and was fouled on the put back. He converted both foul shots with just 1.1 seconds left in the game and it looked like the 52-52 tie was going to take the two squads into a period of overtime.
But in highlight fashion, Brady Olson and Tom Fields connected on what could easily be considered the play of the year, in any class. Olson hurled the ball about 90 feet down court on the inbounds play and hit Fields (a Thunder wide receiver as well) in stride. Fields streaked down the court and caught the ball right in front of his bench, and after one step, and while falling out of bounds, Fields put up a shot at the buzzer. With the red lights still glowing around the backboard, Fields’ shot went in, and the Thunder defeated the Pioneers by just three points.
The Thunder’s fourth quarter comeback was due to the six treys they were able to knock down on the Pioneers’ 2-3 zone defense. In the meantime, the Pioneers once hot offense couldn’t find a way to score when they needed most, consistently throughout the fourth quarter.
Beck carried the Pioneers through the second half. After just an eight point first half, Beck scored at will in the paint, finishing with 19 points and 13 rebounds. Bailey also finished with 12 pionts, while Leader finished with eight points and a game high 16 rebounds. Lackner finished with seven points and nine rebounds.
Big Sandy had a solid state tournament. They didn’t get the best shooting from outside, but somebody always seemed to step up. If it was Hanson turning the tables with his steals in the first round, it was Leader or Beck turning things around with their points in the Paint.
Unfortunately, two tough losses after their impressive opening win ended the pioneers’ season, as well as four senior starters’ prep careers without a top finish this time around.
Westby/Grenora 55, Big Sandy 52
Westby/Grenora 10 10 12 23 – 55
Big Sandy 9 17 15 11 – 52
Westby/Grenora – Brady Olson 21, Cooper Olson 16, Adam Carlson 12, Thomas Field 4.
Big Sandy – Zac Leader 8, Trevor Lackner 7, Kaden Beck 19, Jessey Bailey 12, Jerry Hanson 4.
Fairview 72, Big Sandy 58
Fairview 22 20 16 14 – 72
Big Sandy 4 10 18 26 – 58
Fairview – Justin Bieber 17, Ben Hardy 8, Monte Cayko 17, Kyle Shelmerdine 3.
Big Sandy – Trevor Lackner 16, Kaden Beck 2, Zac Leader 22, Jessey Bailey 4, Jerry Hanson 11.