ABERDEEN-For the second straight season, Clark/Willow Lake halted Bridgewater-Emery's state title aspirations.
The Huskies fell to the Cyclones 56-55 in a semifinal thriller at the State B boys basketball tournament on Friday at an electric Wachs Arena. Clark/Willow Lake, which now plays De Smet in the state title game, knocked off Bridgewater-Emery in last year's semifinals on its way to a runner-up finish.
"This game very well could have went our way and it hasn't for two years," Bridgewater-Emery guard Jamin Arend said. "I mean, maybe three years would be the charm, but we don't get to find that out."
Clark/Willow Lake won last year's meeting 67-62 and the rematch between the two Class B powerhouses lived up to the billing once more. There were nine ties and 11 lead changes, while Clark/Willow Lake held the largest lead at five late in the third quarter.
"Two heavyweight teams going at it on semifinal night," Bridgewater-Emery coach Scott Schultz said. "It doesn't get much better than that."
Clark/Willow Lake (22-2) all-state guard Jacob Prouty powered the Cyclones with 37 points on 13-of-24 shooting from the field. He canned seven 3-pointers. Prouty broke the Class B boys basketball tourney record for most points in a semifinal game. White River's Louie Krogman held the record with 35 points in 2007.
"Jacob Prouty carried us for the game," Clark/Willow Lake coach Jerome Nesheim said. "He's such a true competitor. He loves big games, big bright lights and he just shined at that time."
Prouty's two free throws with 28 seconds left broke the scoring record and also broke a 52-all tie. After a timeout, Arend attacked the basket and missed a contested shot in the lane. Clark/Willow Lake's Micah Burke collected the miss and nailed two free throws with 12 seconds for a 56-52 advantage.
"We just had some things we had worked on and thought maybe we could get some clean looks out of and get to the basket," Schultz said. "I think for the most part we got those looks and got there. We just didn't knock down the shot."
Bridgewater-Emery's Sawyer Schultz made a 3-pointer at the buzzer for the final margin. Schultz dropped in 25 points and grabbed 12 rebounds for the Huskies (20-5), who play Viborg-Hurley at 6 p.m. today in the third-place game.
"He's so good off the dribble," Nesheim said about Schultz. "He's good on the pull up. He never makes a mistake. He never goes through guys. So he's really hard to defend."
So was Prouty, who netted 24 points in the first half as Clark/Willow Lake took a 28-26 into halftime. He hit six 3-pointers in the first half.
"He shot lights out," said Arend, who scored 13 points. "It's crazy. He is a very good player and all respect to him."
The back and forth action continued in the second half as both teams traded shots. Arend backed in a corner 3-pointer to beat the third-quarter buzzer as Clark/Willow Lake took a 44-42 lead into the final period.
Arend knotted it up at 52-52 after splitting a pair of free throws with 36 seconds left. Prouty was fouled attacking the basket and he converted at the foul line. The Cyclones closed it out from there.
"A lot of hype for this game," Nesheim said. "It's just too bad we had to meet up in the semifinals. They are a great team and great athletes."
The Huskies battled on the boards with Clark/Willow Lake, which features Burke (6-foot-6) and Stone Burke (6-foot-4). Bridgewater-Emery held its own and was only out-rebounded 36-33.
"That was big for us, too," coach Schultz said. "A couple of times we didn't get the boards that we needed to and missed some good shots. We got some good shots around the basket. We will take those all night long."
The Huskies will now turn their attention to the third-place contest. Bridgewater-Emery defeated Viborg-Hurley 62-45 in the final regular season game and can close out the season with a second straight third-place finish.
"Basketball is a little more forgiving than football is and you get one more game after you lose," Arend said. "I want to go out and have fun with my teammates for one last time."
Clark/Willow Lake 56, Bridgewater-Emery 55
Clark/Willow Lake (22-2): Jeffrey Paulson 0-0 0-0 0, Grayson Florey 2-6 0-2 5, Tyler O'Neill 0-1 0-0 0, Jacob Prouty 13-24 4-4 37, Travis O'Neill 0-0 0-0 0, Stone Burke 0-5 2-5 2, Micah Burke 5-8 2-3 12. Totals 20-44 8-14 56
Bridgewater-Emery (20-5): Jamin Arend 5-15 2-4 13, Sawyer Schultz 10-21 4-6 25, Chase Arend 1-6 5-6 7, Jonah Hofer 1-2 0-1 2, Bodie Burnham 0-0 0-0 0, Carter Dye 3-14 2-2 8, Rylee Schultz 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 20-58 13-19 55
CWL 16 28 44 56
BE 16 26 42 55
FG pct.: CWL .455, BE .345. 3-point field goals: CWL 8-17 (Florey 1-4, O'Neill 0-1, Prouty 7-11, Burke 0-1), BE 2-17 (Arend 1-4, Schultz 1-8, Dye 0-5). Rebounds: CWL 36 (Burke 16), BE 33 (Schultz 12). Fouls CWL 16, BE 16. Fouled out: none. Technicals: none. Assists: CWL 11 (Florey 4), BE 6 (Arend 5). Steals: CWL 5 (Prouty 3), BE 10 (Schultz 3, Arend 3). Blocked shots: CWL 1 (Burke 1), BE 3 (Arend 1, Schultz 1, Dye 1). Turnovers: CWL 19, BE 10.