Dykstra, Johnson combine for 41 points in 59-56 win over Ethan
ABERDEEN — With .6 seconds left on the clock and his team down three points, Ethan’s Tyler Myers rebounded a missed free throw and heaved the ball from under his own basket, nearly 90 feet, hitting the back of the rim.
The desperation miss ended a thrilling game, with No. 7 seed Platte-Geddes topping No. 6 seed Ethan 59-56 in the semifinals of the Class B state boys’ basketball tournament Friday at the Barnett Center in Aberdeen.
“When he threw that ball up, I knew it was going to be close,” Platte-Geddes coach Frank Cutler said. “Luckily it went in our favor.”
The Black Panthers (19-6) play for their first state title since 2008 — the first year of the Platte-Geddes consolidation — against No. 1 James Valley Christian in the Class B championship at 8 p.m. today. JVC earned a spot in the title game with a 72-55 win over Potter County in the first semifinal Friday.
“(JVC) has two great guards that can handle the ball and can shoot it,” Cutler said about the matchup with the Vikings.
Early on, the zone defense and length of Platte-Geddes caused problems for the Rustlers (21-4), who were held without a field goal until the 2:45 mark of the first quarter.
A quick five points, including a 3-pointer, from junior forward Coby Johnson gave the Black Panthers a 16-1 lead.
Johnson was forced to sit in the second quarter with foul trouble, but Carter Dykstra and Kole Heller picked up the offensive slack for Platte-Geddes, scoring 26 combined first-half points. Ethan chipped away at the deficit in the second quarter and trailed by six heading into halftime.
After trading baskets throughout the third quarter, Ethan pulled to within one when sophomore forward Camden Myers hit a layup and free throw after getting fouled with three minutes to play.
Down two with 1:20 left in the game, Myers missed a pair of free throws that would have tied the game, but it wasn’t the final opportunity for Ethan.
Platte-Geddes’ free throws from Dykstra and Alex Gerlach extended the team’s lead to four with under 30 seconds left, but Ethan senior guard Blake Bartscher hit a quick 3-pointer to tighten the game. After Brady Peterson split a pair from the line for the Black Panthers, Bartscher lost the ball driving to the basket on the ensuing possession.
The Black Panthers celebrated as the horn went off, but there was still time left following a Rustler foul on Johnson. After clearing the court of Platte-Geddes players, the officials put .6 seconds back on the clock.
“I had to calm the team down a little bit because I thought there may be some time left,” Cutler said.
Johnson hit the first free throw, but missed the second and Tyler Myers’ full-court shot for Ethan just missed to end the game officially.
“That thing was hanging and I could hear the crowd reacting,” Johnson said. “I thought for sure it was in, but thankfully it wasn’t.”
Dykstra finished with a game-high 23 points for the Black Panthers on 9-of-17 shooting. He made three 3-pointers, grabbed six rebounds and had three steals. Johnson scored 19 points despite having to sit for extended periods of time in both halves due to foul trouble. Heller added 11 points, while Peterson grabbed six rebounds.
Platte-Geddes shot 20-of-41 from the field and 13-of-17 from the free-throw line.
Ethan was led by Bartscher with a game-high 25 points. He made three 3-pointers and had four assists. The Platte-Geddes defense troubled Bartscher throughout the contest, as he turned the ball over 10 times.
“We left a lot out there and could have made a lot more plays,” Ethan coach Bryce Roth said. “We were a little timid early and extended ourselves, letting them come out on defense. That was the best 2-3 zone we’ve seen all year.”
Camden Myers added 18 points and nine rebounds for the Rustlers, who shot 20-42 from the field and 13-of-20 from the free-throw line. Ethan outrebounded Platte-Geddes 30-21.
The Rustlers play Potter County in the Class B third-place game at 6 p.m. today.
PLATTE-GEDDES 59, ETHAN 56
ETHAN (21-4): Connor 2-7 2-3 6, Bartscher 8-20 6-7 25, Donovan 1-1 0-0 2, Tillberg 1-4 0-0 2, C.Myers 7-9 4-8 18, T.Myers 1-1 1-2 3. Totals: 20-42 13-20 56.
PLATTE-GEDDES (19-6): Dykstra 9-17 2-2 23, Heller 2-4 7-8 11, Johnson 7-13 2-4 19, Peterson 1-3 1-2 3, Wagner 1-3 0-0 2, Gerlach 0-1 1-2 1. Totals: 20-41 13-18 59.
E 18 33 45 59
PG 5 27 41 56
3-pointers: Than 3-9 (Bartscher 3-7, Connor 0-1, Tillberg 0-1), PG 6-12 (Dykstra 3-5, Heller 0-1, Johnson 3-5, Wagner 0-1). Rebounds: Ethan 30 (C.Myers 9), PG 21 (Dykstra 6, Peterson 6). Assists: Ethan 8 (Bartscher 4), PG 3 (3 with 1). Total fouls: Ethan 19, PG 18. Fouled out: Tillberg, Wagner.