ABERDEEN -- The Bridgewater-Emery Huskies weathered a storm on Thursday.

No. 7 seed Bridgewater-Emery nearly gave up a 16-point lead, but held off No. 2 Timber Lake 55-54 in the opening round of the State B boys basketball tournament at Wachs Arena.

“Even though they are the two seed and we are the seven seed, it was a heck of a game,” Sawyer Schultz said. “That just shows how the depth in this tournament is phenomenal.”

The Huskies trailed just briefly in the opening stages and took a double-digit advantage at halftime. But the Panthers stormed back in the second half before the Huskies pulled out the victory.

“We knew they were going to make a run,” Bridgewater-Emery coach Scott Schultz said. “We just talked about trying to stave it off and just try to stay in control.”

The Huskies (20-4), who were led by Sawyer Schultz’s 25 points and 11 boards, never relinquished the lead late in the game. Timber Lake (18-3) did have a chance for the win.

Timber Lake’s Brayden PayPay made it 55-54 with 55 seconds left. Timber Lake could have taken the lead with 19 seconds left, but Trey Bollinger missed two free throws for the Panthers. Bridgewater-Emery’s Chase Arend later missed the front end of bonus free throws and Timber Lake called a timeout with 4.6 seconds. Panther coach Cody Lawrence drew up a play for speedy guard Isaac Kraft, who finished with 14 points, to attack the rim.

“We wanted to give Isaac a chance,” Lawrence said. “He had been attacking very well all night. So we wanted to give him a chance if we can get him going toward the hoop we were going to give him that opportunity, which he had. ... Isaac saw a lane and it closed it up pretty quick and it just happened.”

Jamin Arend forced a steal and Schultz dribbled out the clock as the Huskies survived and advanced to the semifinals.

“It was a fun game to play,” Scott Schultz said. “I think both sides would tell you it was a good, fun game on the court. The kids played hard.”

The Huskies shot 14 of 32 in the first half to take a 33-20 halftime lead. Bridgewater-Emery later stretched the advantage to 16 points early in the third quarter. However, the Panthers outscored the Huskies 20-14 in the third quarter as they cranked up the defense.

“We just needed to play our basketball and we didn’t do that in the first quarter and second quarter we started picking it up a little bit,” Lawrence said. “We pushed the ball a little bit more and forced them to be a little bit uncomfortable.”

The Huskies maintained the advantage, while the score was knotted up on three occasions in the fourth quarter. Schultz, the Huskies’ savvy senior guard, scored six of his 25 points in the final quarter. He nailed two free throws with 1:28 left for B-E’s final two points.

“The experience helps with the big parts of the game down the stretch and making those big plays,” Schultz said.  

Carter Dye finished with nine points and eight rebounds before fouling out late. Dye was matched up with Timber Lake’s Tucker Kraft, who stands 6-foot-5. Kraft finished with eight points 10 rebounds.

“I thought I did pretty well,” Dye said about guarding Kraft, a South Dakota State football recruit. “Both of us did real well. We average more points than we put up tonight. It was a good game by both of us I would say.”

Brayden PayPay finished with 25 points, while drawing the defensive attention of B-E’s guards.

“He hit some deep threes,” Sawyer Schultz said. “Those are tough to guard because he’s pretty quick off the bounce and he gets to the basket. It’s just one of those tougher matchups for us.”

The Huskies will now play in their third straight championship semifinal. Bridgewater-Emery won the state championship in 2017 and took third last season. The Huskies will play either Clark/Willow Lake or Sully Buttes at 7:45 p.m. today.

“Semifinal night is definitely one of the best,” Dye said. “The atmosphere is awesome and hopefully the weather is better.”

Bridgewater-Emery 55, Timber Lake 54

Bridgewater-Emery: Jamin Arend 2-8 2-4 7, Sawyer Schultz 10-21 3-5 25, Chase Arend 4-8 0-1 8, Jonah Hofer 0-4 0-0 0, Bodie Burnham 0-1 0-0 0, Carter Dye 4-9 1-1 9, Grant Andrews 0-0 0-0 0, Rylee Schultz 2-4 2-2 6. Totals 22-55 8-13 55

Timber Lake: Matt Jewett 0-0 0-0 0, Trey Bollinger 1-3 0-2 2, Isaac Kraft 7-13 0-0 14, Hunter Schrempp 0-0 0-0 0, Beau DuBray 0-0 0-0 0, Hank Kraft 0-0 0-0 0, Jackson Harrison 2-9 0-0 5, Brayden PayPay 9-18 4-5 25, Tucker Kraft 3-9 2-3 8, Daryen Ley 0-0 0-0 0, Taylor Goldade 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 22-53 6-10 54

FG%: Bridgewater-Emery .400, Timber Lake .415. 3-pt FG:Bridgewater-Emery 3-14 (Arend 1-3, Schultz 2-6, Hofer 0-2, Burnham 0-1, Dye 0-2), Timber Lake 4-17 (Bollinger 0-1, Harrison 1-7, PayPay 3-9). Rebounds: Bridgewater-Emery 36 (Schultz 11), Timber Lake 33 (Kraft 10). Fouls Bridgewater-Emery 14, Timber Lake 12. Fouled out: Dye . Technical: none. Assists: Bridgewater-Emery 10 (Arend 4), Timber Lake 7 (Kraft 3, Harrison 3). Steals: Bridgewater-Emery 11 (Arend 4), Timber Lake 7 (Kraft 2, PayPay 2). Blocked shots: Bridgewater-Emery 1 (Schultz 1), Timber Lake 6 (Bollinger 3). Turnovers: Bridgewater-Emery 15, Timber Lake 17.