Once again top-seed Duluth East and No. 2 seed Blaine met to determine the Section 7AAAA champion and once again the Greyhounds emerged with a last-second win.
This time it came from a third-pointer with five seconds left as Duluth East won 64-62 and walked off the Elk River High School court with the section title trophy as a stunned Blaine squad looked on in amazement once again.
Duluth East’s Shaq Coleman completed the comeback as he sank a three pointer just before the final buzzer.
Blaine coach Mark Arzdorf was disappointed to get so close to a state tournament appearance in as many years as coach.
“We had it in our hands and they had the ball last and our kids are knocking at the door,” he said about the prospects of competing for a section crown.
Coleman’s shot came after Blaine senior guard Alex Cappard drove the lane and banked home a basket to give the Bengals a 62-61 lead with five seconds left.
Cappard had a game-high 20 points and senior Tanner Schumacher had 16 points as the Bengals finish the season 17-12. Greyhounds junior Mat Lochner led the way with 19 points and senior guard Taylor Stafford added 18.
Blaine seemed to catch a break when Greyhounds senior forward Johnny Woodard fouled out with more than five minutes left.
He was held to 10 points and combine that with the prospects of not facing seven-foot junior center Akolda Manyang, Division 1 prospect. Manyang was held out of the game by school administration.
“It certainly changed our game plan,” Arzdorf said about not having to scheme against the tallest opponent of the season. “The one thing about him is his presence inside and without him in there, it allowed us to get to the basket more.
“They still have two very good scorers who we had to concentrate on but neither exploded on us.”
After last season, Arzdorf knew they would try to shut down Schumacher, just like last season so they installed many screens so we have clean looks at shots. “It’s okay for us if they focus on Tanner because they opened things up for other guys,” Arzdorf said.
Blaine struggled to collect rebounds, especially in the second half as they were outscored 30-21 over the final 18 minutes.
Blaine led 41-34 at the half and was looking forward to building on that in the second half, despite senior Josh Limberg’s three first half fouls. “Late in the game we had three guys with four fouls but we were able to control the flow on defense,” Arzdorf said, as he keyed the wisdom from senior Ryun Hobbs for maintaining control when some teammates got into foul trouble. “He did a nice job off the bench and he’s one of those kids who will mortify you with the stats be puts up but is a very sound basketball player who can defend against a post of a wing.
“If he needs to put the ball on the floor, he will. He’s not going to show up in the newspaper with contributions but he did all of the right things.”