LESTER PRAIRIE – When the final horn finally went off, Lester Prairie boys basketball coach Andrew Dahl could finally take a sigh of relief.
All game long Dahl and the Bulldogs had fans on the edge of their seats as they never could quite pull away for good from Buffalo Lake-Hector-Stewart in their Section 2A North Sub-Section quarterfinal matchup. Despite being in control for most of the game, it came down to the wire and it was junior Trever Schauer coming through in big spots down the stretch in a thrilling 57-55 win for Lester Prairie Tuesday night.
“That’s the thing about March I guess,” Lester Prairie coach Andrew Dahl said. “You just have to find a way to win. We had some really good stretches and some tough ones too where we couldn’t get stops. I’m proud of the guys for executing down the stretch and getting a bucket when we needed one. I’m just happy to advance at this point.”
With BLHS trailing by three with 22 seconds coming out of a timeout, a desperation shot from the corner found the bottom of the net to tie the game at 55 with just 6.3 seconds left to play. Coming out of a timeout of their own, Lester Prairie got Schauer in space who drew a foul with 3.6 seconds left. Schauer would sink both free throws to put the Bulldogs up 57-55 but he wasn’t done there. He came up with a huge block at the buzzer on the Mustangs’ final shot as Lester Prairie held on for a thrilling win at the horn.
“He’s big time,” Dahl said about Schauer. “He scores inside or outside. He’ll play a little point guard for us too at times. I’m really proud of him for finding some ways to get some buckets when we needed him. He does a lot for us and he did it tonight.”
The Bulldogs were in control of the game throughout but never could pull away. BLHS led 3-0 out of the gate but never led the rest of the game as Lester Prairie kept them at bay for most of the game until the final minutes.
“We knew they weren’t going to go away so we just had to keep as much of a lead as we could,” Dahl said. “They have some good players and those guards are tough. They can shoot the ball and they’re quick and aggressive to the rim. I think it was good for us to have a close game though to prepare us for games going forward.”
Lester Prairie’s execution out of timeouts and halftime were crucial in the win. The Bulldogs came through with easy buckets out of a set play multiple times in the win, a big key in a close game in the postseason.
“For the postseason, we’ve worked a little more on that in practice,” Dahl said. “It’s nice having a couple of sets that we can go to for some easy buckets. In a tight game like that, those are huge to get some easy buckets. I’m proud of the guys for locking in and doing their roles when they needed to make the right play.”
The Bulldogs came into the matchup shorthanded as they were missing senior Tanner Scheevel who was out with an ankle injury. That gave players like Caiden Herrmann, LaDamien Gatlin-Coellner, and Kaden Otto a chance to step up and deliver and they did just that in the win.
“A lot of the other guys stepped up too,” Dahl said. “Missing Tanner, it was nice to have a few guys step up and take those minutes and make plays for us.”
Despite coming into the postseason on a three-game losing streak, Lester Prairie was feeling good about themselves coming in.
“We lost three in a row but I thought the last two we played pretty well,” Dahl said. “We were scoring better so we had some positive things coming in even though we didn’t get a win. It was nice to get out there again though. It was a long week waiting for our first playoff game but I’m glad we came out and got it done.”
With the win, Lester Prairie is scheduled to take on No. 2 BOLD in the Section 2A North semifinals Thursday. Section games around the state have been moved around due to forecasted weather for Thursday. Stay connected with Herald Journal to see if a schedule change is made to the Section 2A Tournament.
“We knew BOLD is a good team,” Dahl said. “They got some size and some athletes. We played at their place last year and had a good competitive game with them. We kind of expect the same thing later this week.”
Follow Kip Kovar on Twitter – @Kovar_HJSports