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McPherson men squeak by Friends 81-80

  • Eagle correspondent
  • Published Saturday, Feb. 23, 2013, at 8:51 p.m.

Friends went from elation to deflation in two seconds Saturday evening.

With two seconds to play, McPherson’s three-quarter-court heave was deflected by the Falcons’ Zach Nelson.

One problem: The ball went to the Bulldogs’ Kasey Miller, whose 12-footer as the buzzer sounded bounced twice and fell, giving McPherson a stunning 81-80 victory in the KCAC semifinals at Garvey Gymnasium.

The Bulldogs (14-17), who shocked top-seeded Saint Mary in overtime in Friday’s first round, will face Sterling in Monday’s final, scheduled for 6 p.m. at Hartman Arena. Friends’ season ends at 17-13.

Miller, a 5-foot-11 senior from Derby, said he didn’t think his shot was going in.

“I thought it was short, and I guess I just got the shooter’s roll, so it all worked out,” he said. “The play wasn’t to me, so I guess I was just in the spot at the right time.”

Miller said he was happy to prolong his senior season.

“I saw it go through, and I thought, ‘I guess the season’s not over yet,’ ” he said.

Bulldogs coach Tim Swartzendruber said the finish resembled a movie ending.

“It seemed like the ball hung on the rim forever, then the buzzer went off, and then it fell in,” he said.

Swartzendruber said his team’s tournament run is especially gratifying considering the adversity McPherson has had to overcome.

“We’ve been playing our best basketball at the end of the year,” he said. “… We’ve lost three starters and they’ve pulled together. I’m extremely proud of them.”

Friends’ Anthony White, who missed two free throws with 46.8 seconds left, made two with 14.2 seconds to play for an 80-79 lead.

McPherson’s Adam Bruner drove and lost the ball, and Nelson was then fouled by Miller. Nelson missed the first and intentionally missed the second, but McPherson immediately called timeout as Friends coach Dale Faber argued the Bulldogs didn’t clearly have possession.

McPherson made 56.4 percent of its shots. Samson Shivers and Jake Reinhardt scored 16 points each, two of five Bulldogs in double figures. Colton Rausch hit four of the Falcons’ 15 three-pointers and finished with 18 points. Brandon Johnson scored 16, all in the second half.

McPHERSON (14-17): Johnson 4-5 2-3 10, Lakin 1-1 0-0 3, Shivers 5-14 4-5 16, Reinhardt 6-9 4-4 16, Bruner 6-14 3-5 14, Miller 2-3 0-0 5, Woods 2-2 1-2 5, Powers 5-7 0-1 12, Roop 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 31-55 13-20 81.

FRIENDS (17-13): Nelson 2-9 0-2 6, Bland 3-8 0-2 8, Johnson 5-8 2-2 16, White 4-6 5-8 13, Rausch 6-8 2-2 18, Anderson 0-1 0-0 0, Goudeau 1-2 0-0 3, Sponsel 1-1 0-0 2, Mitchell 4-6 2-4 11, Simmonds 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 27-53 11-20 80.

Halftime — Friends 36-34. Three-pointers — McPherson 6-16 (Poers 2-4, Shivers 2-9, Lakin 1-1, Miller 1-1, Bruner 0-1), Friends 15-33 (Rausch 4-5, Johnson 4-7, Bland 2-5, Nelson 2-8, Mitchell 1-2, Goudeau 1-2, Wilson 1-4). Rebounds — McPherson 39 (Reinhardt 11), Friends 20 (Nelson 5). Turnovers — McPherson 10 (Powers 5), Friends 5 (Mitchell 3). Total fouls — McPherson 19, Friends 17. Fouled out — Johnson.

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