BOYS BASKETBALL: Cass Lake-Bena comeback falls short in Section 8A title game
THIEF RIVER FALLS -- Jarell Jacobs put the Panthers on his shoulders in the second half, but a cold night shooting left the Cass Lake-Bena High School boys basketball team on the wrong side of the scoreboard Friday night in the Section 8A championship game.
Ada-Borup thwarted the Panthers’ hopes of returning to state for a second straight year by earning a 66-56 win at Ralph Engelstad Arena in Thief River Falls.
Cass Lake-Bena led 4-2 early in the contest between the top seeds in each subsection. Ada-Borup took the lead for good when Tommy Stewart’s 3-pointer broke a 10-10 tie around the midpoint in the first half.
The Panthers shot only 22 percent (7-for-32) from the field in the first half, with the Cougars shooting 47 percent (9-for-19).
“In the first half we played good D,” CLB head coach John Wind said. “We just struggled offensively. Our defense for the whole game wasn’t bad. … We had open shots, they just didn’t go in.”
The Cougars (28-1) led by as many as nine points in the first half when the score stood at 21-12 with 2:50 to go.
The Panthers closed the half on an 8-2 run. Antonio Brown hit a layup off a Jacobs steal in the waning seconds to narrow the deficit to 23-20 at the break.
Ada-Borup began the second half on a 11-2 run and took a 46-32 lead on Verdis Barber’s layup with 8:05 to play.
Jacobs, held scoreless in the opening frame, caught fire in the second half. The junior scored all of his team-leading 19 points in the final frame, including eight straight off a pair of treys and a breakaway layup to cut the deficit to just four points at 49-45 with five minutes remaining.
Jacobs nailed another 3-pointer to narrow the deficit to 54-48 with 2:58 to go.
However, the Cougars kept answering. Jacobs was eventually whistled for personal and technical fouls with 1:07 to play. Preston Gwin sank all four free throws to extend the lead to 65-50, effectively sealing the win.
CLB finished shot 26 percent (18-for-70) from the field, while Ada-Borup shot 53 percent (19-for-36).
“We just didn’t execute on the offensive end in the first half or the second half,” Wind said.
Mason Miller led all scorers with his 22 points for Ada-Borup, which clinched its first trip to state since 2009.
Following Jacobs’ 19 points, Jared Brown racked up 16 for Cass Lake-Bena while Ethan Brown tallied 10.
The Panthers end their season at 28-2 and will lose five seniors to graduation, including Antonio Brown, Ethan Brown, Jared Brown, RaSean Connor and Coltin Mitchell.
“We’ll lose some players and then we’ll start off tomorrow and next week, and we’ll start going,” Wind said. “We have a lot of juniors coming back, and some sophomores and freshmen coming up. We’ll just go from there.”
Ada-Borup 66, Cass Lake-Bena 56
AB 23 43 -- 66
CLB 20 36 -- 56
ADA-BORUP (28-1) -- Miller 22, Gwin 14, Barber 9, Stewart 7, Brainard 6, Stevenson 5, Bucholz 2, Lee 1.
CASS LAKE-BENA (28-2) -- Jacobs 19, J. Brown 16, E. Brown 10, Fowler 3, Lee 3, Sargent 3, A. Brown 2.