Cougars edge Rustlers 63-62 in Region 6BSouth Central’s Sam Hazen made the most important basket of his life Tuesday at the Corn Palace in Mitchell.
By: Aaron Saunders, The Daily Republic
South Central’s Sam Hazen made the most important basket of his life Tuesday at the Corn Palace in Mitchell.
With 15 seconds left on the game clock, the 6-foot-5 junior beat a double team and elevated toward the basket, released the ball, which kissed off the glass and fell through the net. The basket came with 11 seconds remaining in the game.
The bucket gave South Central a 63-62 lead over Ethan in the Region 6B boys’ basketball championship at the Corn Palace in Mitchell. It proved to be the game-winner and was the final score of the contest.
“It feels great to make that shot,” Hazen said. “I just knew I had to take the shot, so I got it and took it. I have been coming through for my teammates all season, and it means a lot that they had confidence in me to make the shot.”
Hazen scored four points in the fourth quarter and finished with 12 for the Cougars, who are going to the state tournament for the first time since 1957. South Central’s high school is based in Bonesteel.
After Hazen’s made bucket, the Ethan Rustlers had a chance to retaliate.
But the Rustlers were thwarted on both attempts by the South Central defense.
“That was a very hard-fought, pretty exciting game,” Ethan coach Bryce Roth said. “ … We would have liked to end up on the other side of it, but that is just two good teams going at it. Our boys have a lot of desire to win and I always tell them, ‘When you get knocked down, it’s about how you react,’ and we are a heck of a ball club.”
Ethan jumped out to a 9-2 lead to begin the game with help from forward Anthony Huber, who scored four of the team’s first nine points and finished the game with eight points.
South Central answered the Rustlers’ streak with a 10-0 run of its own to capture the lead by the end of the first quarter.
During the Cougars’ spurt, Josh Tuttle scored nine of his 11 points.
Along with Tuttle’s first-quarter performance, South Central was aided by Dakota Votaw’s 12-point third quarter and Tyler Frank’s nine-point fourth quarter.
Votaw finished with 17 points and Frank finished with a team-high 19 points.
There were seven lead changes in the game and four ties.
“Our kids have found a way to win all season. I guess that is why we are 21-2,” South Central coach Clayton Steele said. “We knew Ethan was a good team and that they would come at us physically. It was just a back-and-forth, seesaw game.”
Ethan ends its season 13-10. South Central advances to the Class B state tournament, which starts March 14 in Aberdeen.
E 11 28 50 62
SC 18 30 46 63