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Defense wins championships: Grand Meadow uses late stop to edge Schaeffer 40-38

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Grand Meadow's Ethan Gilbert (32) and Ben Kraft (2) attempt to block Schaeffer's Nic Sanger (3) as he goes up for a shot during a Section 1A quarterfinal game on Wednesday, March 4, 2020, at Mayo Civic Center in downtown Rochester. (Traci Westcott / twestcott@postbulletin.com)

ROCHESTER – Colt Landers had just drained a 15-foot jumper to give No. 5 Grand Meadow a 40-38 lead over No. 4 Schaeffer Academy.

Thirty-five seconds remained on the clock.

Grand Meadow coach Dakotah Rostad glanced up at the scoreboard and noticed that his team had one foul to give. Schaeffer Academy was content to let the clock run out. The gave the ball to star point guard Isaiah Lahr. The senior had delivered all season long.

In a blink of an eye, Lahr exploded past Ethan Lane. There was a clear lane to the rim for a potential game-tying layup. But at the last moment, Lane reached out and fouled Lahr. 

With just four seconds left, Schaeffer was forced to inbound the ball under their own basket. The plan was to throw a lob for 6-foot-3 guard Nic Sanger. Except Grand Meadow planned for it perfectly. Sanger wasn’t open.

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So Lahr received a lob at the top of the key. Lane was right there. Lahr jabbed left and went right. Lane was attached to Lahr’s hip, but the Schaeffer guard managed to slip around him and get to the cup.

He flipped up a layup and time stood still. 

The entire Civic Center went quiet for a moment.

Clang.

The buzzer sounded.

The red light went off embroidering the backboard.

Lahr’s floater was just too strong. It bounced off the back rim, and Grand Meadow celebrated a 40-38 win.

"It meant a lot to me but it meant more to them," Rostad said. "All that hard work we put in since March of last year, it paid off. That was a really fun locker room."

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Schaeffer Academy head coach Tom Bance admitted that he wouldn’t have changed anything about that final shot. Lahr had been terrific all game long. In a contest where points were hard to find, Lahr had a game-high 12 points. Moments earlier, Lahr had nailed a baseline floater to tie the game at 38 before Landres’ heroics.

"He had an open layup," Bance said. "More often than not, he makes that. He took off a little farther away from the hoop and was just a touch too strong. It was a good look and we’d take that every time."

It would have been a totally different story without Landers’ jumper.

"We were trying to work it inside," Landers said. "We didn’t want to settle for a three. We wanted to get a look at the rim. I shoot that midrange 100 times and I let it fly. And it went in."

Schaeffer and Grand Meadow both showcased defensive clinics. Schaeffer refused to let Landers get a clean touch for most of the game. It looked like Schaeffer was just moments away from opening up the game midway through the second half, but Grand Meadow received huge 3-pointers from Blake Ludemann and Ethan Gilbert to stem the Schaeffer run.

Ludemann and Gilbert each made just one shot but they kept Grand Meadow afloat. 

Grand Meadow improved to 21-7 and will play No. 1 Blooming Prairie on Saturday at 11 a.m. at the Civic Center. 

"It’s going to be a good challenge on Saturday," Landers said. "I’m motivated more than ever. We’re one of the lower seeds, and I think we can make a run in this section." 

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They will look to avenge a 57-56 defeat that Blooming Prairie handed them on Jan. 31.

"We know they’re a solid program," Rostad said. "We have to do a better job of taking care of the ball. They forced 24 turnovers during the first game. They have two solid athletes with Kaden Thomas at the guard and Gabe Hagan down low. He’s a load. The boys know what they have to do."

Landers finished with 10 points. Evan Oehlke also scored 10 points for Grand Meadow.

Sanger (11 points) and Luke Kottom (10 points) cracked double figures along with Lahr. Schaeffer finished their record-breaking season with a 22-6 record. They were the Southeast Conference champions.

"We met all of our goals," Bance said. "When the season started we wanted to win a playoff game, we never won a playoff game. We wanted to win the conference, we did. We’d never beaten Spring Grove before, and we did that twice. Everything that we set out to do, we did. These seniors are a big part of that." 

No. 5 Grand Meadow 40, No. 4 Schaeffer Academy 38

GRAND MEADOW (40)

Ben Kraft 6 P; Evan Oehlke 10 P, 2 3-PT; Blake Ludemann 3 P, 1 3-PT; Ethan Lane 8 P; Colt Landers 10 P; Ethan Gilbert 3 P, 1 3-PT. 

SCHAEFFER ACADEMY (38)

Nic Sanger 11 P, 1 3-PT; Isaiah Lahr 12 P, 2 3-PT; Ben Merry 5 P, 1 3-PT; Luke Kottom 10 P. 

Halftime: GM 20, SA 19.

Free throws: GM 2-2, SA 0-4.

Three-point goals: GM 4, SA 4.

Schaeffer vs. Grand Meadow boys basketball Section 1A quarterfinal

Related Topics: GRAND MEADOWBASKETBALL
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