Humboldt’s lead was dwindling. Wartburg had the momentum on its side with a chance to finish off a big comeback.
But then came a breakaway for Humboldt junior De’Sonta Bradford. He threw down a monster dunk with just over five minutes to play to bring a little noise to Murphy Center, which had gotten quiet.
Less than two minutes later Bradford dunked again, and Humboldt finished off a 64-58 win over Wartburg in the Class A semifinals on Friday.
“That was big for momentum,” said Bradford, who had 20 points and 12 rebounds. “The fourth quarter was my quarter, and I had to do something.”
Stephon Turner led Humboldt with 26 points. He was 9-of-11 from the field, including 4-of-4 on 3-pointers.
Humboldt (28-6) moves on to play District 14-A foe Lake County in the Class A championship Saturday at 4 p.m.
Wartburg’s Alex Fountain scored 33 points to lead all scorers.
“These guys are going kill me yet,” Humboldt coach Thomas Boykin said. “They (Wartburg) are larger than we are, so we had to try and make them run. We can’t stand around and guard 6-7 and 6-6 guys.
“We saw them (Thursday), and they were sucking wind. They had no gas tank. So I told the boys to keep running.”
The Vikings jumped out to a 24-9 lead after the first quarter and extended the lead to 36-18 at halftime.
Momentum was definitely on the side of the Vikings, but all of that changed in the third quarter. The Bulldogs ended the quarter on a 10-0 run to cut the Vikings’ lead to 45-37.
The runs continued in the fourth quarter as Fountain scored three more to cut the Humboldt lead to 45-40.
“We have a tendency to relax like the game is over when we get a big lead,” Boykin said. “It was careless mistakes. We were showboating when we needed to protect the basketball.”
“We could do nothing right in the first half offensively or defensively,” Wartburg coach Joe Layne said. “The boys never quit, we just ran out of time.”
But after a Bradford free throw came the dunk, and everything seemed to change from there.
“I told De’Sonta to take over the game,” Boykin said. “Told him this was his show.”