Goodhue holds onTwo last-second 3-point attempts by Hayfield miss the mark and the Wildcats escape with a 52-50 win
By: Chris Harrell, The Republican Eagle
As the shot left the hands of one of the best 3-point shooters in the Hiawatha Valley Conference, the crowd waited and expected it to fall.
It didn’t but the ball leaked back out to the same shooter as the final seconds ticked off the clock and Hayfield’s Bobbie Stephens put up another wide open 3-point attempt and missed again, securing the Goodhue boys basketball team a heart-thumping 52-50 victory Friday in Goodhue.
“The best 3-point shooter got two open looks in the last five seconds,” Goodhue head coach Tony Poncelet said. “It was a great high school Friday night of basketball.”
The Wildcats (2-2) survived against a previously undefeated Hayfield team that beat Rochester Lourdes, who gave Goodhue a 74-53 whooping Tuesday in Goodhue.
Wildcats’ senior Jacob Staehli led all scorers with 20 points on 6 of 9 shooting and 5-for-7 from the free-throw line. Junior Tyson Dicke contributed 17 points, two rebounds and an assist. Senior Michael McNamara did not have his best offensive game but made a huge impact on the defensive end. McNamara finished with eight points, six rebounds, two assists, three steals and five blocks.
Cole Kruger led the Vikings with 12 points, five assists and eight rebounds. He also had three steals. Brady Kramer scored 10 points and grabbed seven rebounds.
The Wildcats struggled out of the gate and fell behind 11-3 in the opening six minutes of the first half. Poncelet said Goodhue was trying a new defense in an attempt to contain Hayfield’s abundance of shooters but without good effort it wasn’t working so he called a time out and set the players straight. Staehli said Poncelet told the players that the game was going to be won on the defensive end and Goodhue responded. He said senior leadership kept them in the game.
“Me and Michael held them together,” he said. “We had to know where the shooters were at all times.”
The Wildcats came out of the time out in man-to-man defense and bottled Hayfield up for the majority of the half. Goodhue also used a 1-3-1 zone defense and McNamara caused havoc for the Hayfield guards from the top of the zone. He deflected and stole numerous passes while allowing the Wildcats’ offense to get into transition.
“Our best defense is going to be our best offense,” Poncelet said. “We wanted to shrink the game.”
Within two minutes, the Wildcats cut the deficit to a point and used a 15-0 run in the final four minutes of the half, capped off by a Staehli jump shot as time expired, to take a 30-25 lead into halftime.
Goodhue used the momentum to push its lead to 38-29 three minutes into the second half and got more great defensive plays from McNamara and the rest of the Wildcats. During a two minute stretch, McNamara blocked four Hayfield layups, three consecutive on one possession, and junior Alex Weckerling added another block off the backboard.
“That’s crazy,” Poncelet said. “The blocks are for the crowd I always say but it did spark a little transition.”
Hayfield responded and used a 9-0 run to tie the game at 38-38 with 13 minutes remaining in regulation. The teams traded points the rest of the way with Hayfield holding the largest lead at 44-40. Down the stretch, Goodhue made its free throws and got a crucial steal from Dicke with 1:28 left in the second half. The Wildcats turned the steal into a 51-50 lead and held on during the hectic final minute.
“We had some 3’s and we hit some big free throws,” Poncelet said. “From the eight minute mark to the two minute mark, I thought we played great defense. I only hope this will propel us.”
A guard dominated team, Hayfield lived and died by the 3-pointer against Goodhue. The Vikings made three 3-pointers in the first half but shot 4 of 15 from long range for the game. Hayfield forced 18 turnovers and outrebounded the Wildcats 30-15 but shot just 41 percent from the field. The Vikings also committed 15 fouls to Goodhue’s six.
The Wildcats connected on 51 percent of their shots from the field, including 6 of 12 from 3-point range and converted 12 of 16 free throws.
“Our goal at the beginning of the season was to protect our home court,” Poncelet said. “The guys got a lot of confidence. It was great.”
Next up, Goodhue plays sixth-ranked Spring Grove Thursday in Goodhue.
“This was a big win for us,” Staehli said. “Hopefully we can keep it rolling.”