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Boys' basketball: Chargers drop double overtime thriller to Knights

Eric Morken, Echo Press West Central Area's Beau Kashmark (right) came over to block Phillip Krueger's shot attempt during the second half of the Knights' 71-66, double-overtime win over Brandon-Evansville on Tuesday night. Kashmark led the way for WCA with 26 points and 11 rebounds.

In a game that demonstrated the value of having a senior-laden ball club, it was a freshman who rose to the occasion with some of the biggest shots in a 71-66 double-overtime win for West Central Area over Brandon-Evansville.

The Knights and Chargers both got solid play from their upperclassmen, but it was WCA's Dakotah Kashmark who gave his team the big shots it needed to force two overtimes and eventually pick up the win. The 5'10" guard hit a free throw to force the first extra session and nailed a three with 24 seconds left that tied the game at 64 apiece in overtime.

A lot happened in those final seconds to force the second overtime. The Chargers turned the ball over on their next possession as WCA called a timeout near mid-court. On the ensuing inbounds pass, Brandt Bitzan tried to fight through a screen but was called for a foul when Beau Kashmark fell to the ground. Kashmark drained both free throws to make it 66-64.

The Chargers were not done. Sean Henneman was in the right spot at the right time on their final possession as he gathered an offensive rebound and put it up and in with less than two seconds remaining to force a second overtime.

Things were all West Central Area after that. The Knights got an early lead and played keep away for more than a minute on their next possession. They held the Chargers scoreless in the second OT and secured the win with free throws from Jake Boeddeker and Beau Kashmark.

"This game was a battle by the players on both teams," Knights' head coach Kraig Hunter said. "A game that neither team deserved to lose. It is obviously a great feeling for our kids as they have been working extremely hard, but coach John Holsten and his Chargers are a class act and have our utmost respect. Coach Holsten does a real nice job with that program."

Holsten has helped the Chargers go from five wins in his first season to five wins through six games already this year. The group looked like a different team against the Knights from the one that went 7-20 a year ago.

"We have seniors now," he said about this team's improvement. "For the last couple years, we have had a good senior, but now we have multiple seniors. Your best teams are the teams with seniors, as far as I'm concerned. They are playing for each other, and they take care of the younger kids, and I think that's what we're seeing from our seniors better."

Bitzan, Kyle Steffenson, Phillip Krueger and Henneman make up that group. All four are captains and all four made big plays for the Chargers on Tuesday night. Henneman had 15 points, five rebounds and five steals. Bitzan had 14 points, including a clutch three with 18 seconds left in regulation that gave his team a one-point lead.

Unfortunately for the Chargers, they ran into another strong group of seniors from West Central Area. Beau Kashmark leads a group of seven upperclassmen on the Knights' roster. His athleticism got him a lot of shots around the basket and also got him to the free-throw line as he finished with 26 points and 11 rebounds. Fellow senior Christian Hammer was also in double figures with 17.

"We had some good performances from several guys," Hunter said. "I thought Colton Blascyk played an outstanding game. They were trying to take him out of the offense, and he led the team with six assists, took a charge and found other ways to help us win. Bryan Starner and Christian Hammer had some good finishes inside, as well."

The Knights were able to stretch things out a couple times throughout the night. They led 19-9 before Brandon-Evansville closed the first half on a 16-7 run. West Central also led by seven with six and a half minutes left in regulation.

The Chargers were not about to go away quietly. Junior center Jared Goehringer scored six straight points for his team to make sure the Knights could never pull away.

"I like our resiliency," Holsten said. "Again, I thought we kept our concentration for the most part. A couple lapses here and there that kind of hurt us, but we played a good team on their court in pretty much a one-possession game."

The Knights improved to 4-3 and stopped a three-game losing skid in the process. The Chargers sat at 5-1 after the loss but have proven that they could be a factor in the Little Eight Conference in the coming weeks.

"[I told them to] stay together," Holsten said after the loss. "We'll see how we bounce back from a tough one. I'm looking for some leadership, and I told them I was proud of them. I thought they battled every possession."



WCA 26 31 9 5 - 71

TEAM STATISTICS - WCA - Field goals - 27-47; Three-point field goals - 7-13; Free throws - 10-16; Turnovers - 23; Rebounds - 24; Brandon-Evansville - Field goals - 24-45; Three-point field goals - 6-26; Free throws - 12-16; Turnovers - 23; Rebounds - 26

BRANDON-EVANSVILLE LEADERS - Henneman - 15 points, 5 rebounds, 5 steals; Bitzan - 14 points, 4 assists; Zach Hintermeister - 12 points; Goehringer - 10 points, 6 rebounds; John Haseman - 7 points; Phillip Krueger - 6 points; Tyson Meissner - 2 points

WCA LEADERS - B. Kashmark - 26 points, 11 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals; Hammer - 17 points; D. Kashmark - 9 points; Bryan Starner - 8 points; Drew Peterson - 5 points; Blascyk - 3 points, 6 assists; Boeddeker - 3 points, 3 assists

Eric Morken

Eric Morken is the sports and outdoor editor at the Echo Press and Osakis Review newspapers in Douglas County, MN. Follow him on Twitter at echo_sports.

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