March 12, 2015 at 2:32 p.m.

Wildcats fall just short of state tournament, lose 50-48 to upset-minded Hermantown

Wildcats fall just short of state tournament, lose 50-48 to upset-minded Hermantown
Wildcats fall just short of state tournament, lose 50-48 to upset-minded Hermantown

Just weeks after beating Hermantown by double digits at home, the Chisago Lakes boys basketball team took on the Hawks again,  Friday, March 6 in Duluth with much more on the line than section seeding.

The winner would go on to the state tournament while the loser would end the season. Unfortunately for the Wildcats, they ended up on the short side of the contest.
The first half was all about runs for both teams. The Hawks scored the first five points of the game with Kole Zuidmulder netting all of them. The Wildcats answered with a quick eight points of their own to take an 8-5 lead.

Hermantown then went on the biggest run of the game, scoring the next 13 points as they took an 18-8 lead and looked to seize early momentum.

Chisago Lakes, ever the resilient bunch, wouldn’t let them have that control. With some early foul trouble, Michael Dunne checked in and provided a spark to his teammates. They netted the next 12 points behind Jake Lindquist, Dunne and Ethan Hickcox.

With a 20-18 lead, the Wildcats looked poised to play a tightly contested game, but there was one more run left in the first half.

The run came after a few baskets from both teams and from the fact that all five starters for Chisago Lakes had two fouls, so they had to be careful on defense. Hermantown took advantage and finished the half on a 10-0 run to take a 32-26 lead into halftime.

In the second half, Hermantown extended it’s lead to seven points late, up 47-40 and had a few chances to put Chisago Lakes, but they couldn’t put the finishing touches on the game.
The ‘Cats got two timely three pointers from Lindquist, a senior who didn’t want his season to end on that night, and tied the game at 48-48 with just over two minutes left.

On the Hawks’ ensuing possession, they missed the front end of a one-and-one and the ‘Cats secured the rebound. Both teams had multiple chances to take the lead over the next few possessions, but neither could find an easy path to the basket.

With only 12 seconds left in the game, Hermantown missed another shot and Chisago Lakes grabbed the board and looked to win on a last-second shot.

As Hickcox pushed the ball up the floor, he had it poked out from behind, and it popped right to a Hermantown player. Zuidmulder, who had 22 points at that point, drove the lane and drew a flock of CL defenders to him. He dished out the biggest assist of his career, though, when he passed it off to a cutting teammate who was true on his shot from in close and put the Hawks up 50-48 with under three seconds left to play.

The Wildcats took a timeout to draw up a play in the short time they had, but they couldn’t come up with the winning formula. Lindquist was the in-bounder, and he got the ball in to Dylan Wood, and Wood dished it back out to Lindquist who had to launch an NBA-range three pointer as the buzzer sounded. The ball sailed left, leaving the Wildcats crumpled and Hermantown ecstatic.

The Wildcats had to go through the pains of receiving their second place trophy and watching Hermantown claim the section crown.

Lindquist led the ‘Cats with 14 points and Hickcox had 12. Will Gillach added nine, Carter Duncan had eight and Dunne chipped in five energetic points off the bench. Hermantown’s Zuidmulder was the top scorer in the game, with 22 points.

Hermantown’s (24-5) was unseeded in the state tournament and drawn against second-seeded St. Paul Johnson. The two teams played Wednesday, March 11 at Williams Arena.

The loss not only ended the season for the Wildcats, it ended the career for five seniors, Lindquist, Gillach, Dunne, Quinton Lee and Noah Taylor.

They did go out with one of the more successful seasons in the last decade for Chisago Lakes. With the section finals loss, the ‘Cats finished 20-9 on the year. It was their first 20 win season since the 2004-05 season.


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