RAPID CITY — There’s something about this time of year and the Sioux Falls Lincoln Patriots.
It appeared that their magic had run out late in regulation Thursday night against No. 4 Huron.
Up 46-42 with 42 seconds left, Patriots missed three free throws to leave the door open for Huron.
The Tigers nearly failed to capitalize when Hyland Heinz missed a 2-pointer, but the ensuing scramble for the loose ball somehow resulted in Kobe Busch taking possession and banking in the game-tying bucket with four seconds left.
Brian Hank Haenchen (@Brian_Haenchen) March 17, 2017
COMPLETE COVERAGE: Class AA state tournaments
After failing to get off a shot on their final possession, it looked like the Patriots could be in real danger considering the massive shift in momentum.
But instead of wilting under pressure, the Patriots upped their game, dominating the extra period and rolling to a 56-47 win.
The two-time defending Class AA champs are moving on.
“The biggest thing I tell our guys is that we will be playing our best basketball at the end of the season,” Lincoln coach Jeff Halseth said. “Right now, these guys are playing fantastic.”
Diang Gatluak led Lincoln with 16 points, six of which came in the extra session. He also hauled in 12 rebounds, blocked a couple of shots, dished out two assists and picked up a steal.
“Diang had a fantastic overtime,” Halseth said. “He finally went strong to the basket. He got a couple really nice blocks and frustrated the heck out of Evers, who is a fantastic player.”
Simon Higganson added 11 points, while Alex Glanzer finished with 10 points. Glanzer also posted six assists, while Dillon Barrow finished with three steals.
For Huron, Tye Evers accumulated 19 points and 14 rebounds, and Hyland Heinz finished with 12 points on 3 of 15 shooting.
As a team, Huron shot 28 percent form the field and was five-for-28 from behind the arc.
“We really just wanted to focus in on playing defense,” Gatluak said. “Our (defensive) intensity kind of fell in the second and third quarters, but then it came back up.”
Defense was a point of emphasis for Lincoln going in and defense was what keyed its domination of the extra period.
Not only did the Patriots force five turnovers, they also held Huron without a field goal for the entire five-minute session. It was an impressive way to close out the game from a team that just finds ways to win this time of year.
“We just told them we live to fight another day. It’s 0-0,” Halseth said. “We always talk about three things we want to take care of: We want to contest shots, don’t let them penetrate and get rebounds. The guys did a good job with that.”
Follow Brian Haenchen on Twitter at @Brian_Haenchen .