Boys Basketball: Lake City suffers heartbreaking loss
ROCHESTER - Lake City never expected its season to end Wednesday night against seventh-ranked Rochester Lourdes at the Mayo Civic Arena.
The Tigers were beat up on in the last meeting between the two teams but Coleman Sweeney didn't play in that game.
On Wednesday, Sweeney and his teammates showed they belonged against the Eagles and for most of the game it looked like Lake City's season would continue.
But a missed shot and a tip-in with 2.7 seconds left on the clock shattered those expectations as second-seeded Lourdes won 56-54 and knocked the third-seeded Tigers out of the Section 1AA-West Subsection tournament.
"I told them I didn't plan, not for second, to give an end of the season comment," Lake City head coach Shawn Sweeney said. "I believed we could win, the kids believed they could win. We took the seventh-ranked team in the state down to the wire. ... Our guys responded to the challenge."
The Tigers will graduate eight players, including four starters in the subsection semifinal. They will also need a new head coach as Shawn said he will step down and leave the program with his son, Coleman.
"It's not exactly the way I wanted to go out," Shawn said. "I'm not going to be a woulda, coulda, shoulda guy. They've been a good group to coach."
Shawn Sweeney thanked his assistants, including Leo Fausch who coached his 42nd season this year.
"It's a special thing," Coleman said of finishing his career with his father. "It was a fun ride and we had a lot of good memories."
Coleman made an immediate difference in Wednesday's game, scoring 11 points in the first half and giving the Eagles (21-6) fits off the dribble. He also guarded Lourdes' top player, Jacob Schaefer, who is significantly taller at 6-foot-7. Schaefer also had 11 points in the first half as Lake City took a 28-27 lead into halftime.
"What you saw is how he plays," Shawn said of Coleman. "He only has one speed."
Ben Schramski, who finished with 12 points, knocked down a 3-pointer coming out of halftime to give the Tigers a 31-27 lead. The Eagles responded with consecutive baskets to tie the game and that was just the beginning of the back-and-forth second half. Lake City did not trail after halftime until 56.8 seconds remaining in the game, but there were seven ties in the half. The Tigers' largest lead was five points on four occasions, including a 51-46 lead with 4 minutes, 8 seconds left.
Mark Pagel gave the Eagles their first lead on a free throw and Coleman was undercut going for a loose ball on the ensuing play. Because Coleman required a trainer's visit for his right arm, Brady Kuchinka was sent to the free-throw line for a 1-and-1 with 33.9 seconds remaining. He knocked down the first attempt but missed the second.
In the final seconds, Lourdes' Alex Glynn found some space along the baseline but missed the layup. As multiple players fought for the rebound, Schaefer got credit for the tip-in and Jake Griebenow's last-second heave from half court missed wide left to send Lake City away with a heartbreaking loss.
"I thought we played solid defense the last 33 seconds," Shawn said. "We had a terrific effort."
The Tigers concluded the season with a 21-5 record and the Hiawatha Valley League Blue Division title.