Jaden Lubarski and Nick Garmen each scored 14 points in Crookston's second straight win.
Nick Garmen hit the go-ahead three with 13 seconds to play, Caden Osborn blocked the tying-shot with 1.1 seconds left and the Crookston Pirates defeated the Badger-Greenbush-Middle River Gators 60-58.
After the Pirates watched a 12 point lead evaporate and trailed by four with 1:29 to play, Crookston put the ball in Garmen’s hands with the chance for a win.
“I was right under the rim on the other side ready to board it if it didn’t go in,” junior forward Jaden Lubarski said. “But I’ve been playing with him for a while and I knew it was going to go in.”
The game-winning trey came out of a missed free throw by BGMR and without calling a timeout, the Pirates rushed down the floor. Garmen passed to junior forward Blake Fee who sent it back to Garmen who had been battling an illness, but went on to drill the three.
“It looked good from where I was at,” Head Coach Greg Garmen said on his son’s shot. “He hadn’t been feeling well and didn’t have his usual energy, but had enough to make a shot when it really counted.”
Both teams played competitively in the first half with neither gaining a lead of more than of more than five. Senior center Carter Winand scored Crookston’s first points with a three after consecutive BGMR baskets. Garmen and Osborn scored on back-to-back possessions to put the Pirates ahead 7-6. Then senior forward Jackson Seibel came off the bench and scored Crookston’s next five points for a 12-9 lead.
The Pirates led 16-13 and then allowed an 8-0 run by BGMR to go down 21-16 and was forced to call a timeout. The break proved effective for Nick Garmen and Osborn who combined to score the Pirates’ next 16 points, a streak that carried into the second half.
Crookston trailed 29-28 at halftime, but made adjustments defensively which led to a 12-0 run behind four points from Osborn, free throws from Fee and seven straight points from Lubarksi.
“One thing was to eliminate the baseline,” Osborn said. “If we eliminate the baseline, it takes away a lot of their points. It helped a lot.”
Lubarski said his adjustment offensively contributed to his run that helped him to 14 points on the night.
“I was attacking the rim definitely,” Lubarski said. “My shot hadn’t been falling lately so I went to the rim more and also got to the line a couple of times. “
The Gators ended the 12-0 run, but the Pirates still played solid defense with two blocks in one minute from Osborn and Winand. Sophomore guard Walker Winjum scored his first points of the game with a bucket under the rim and Winand extended the lead to 47-35 with a block followed by a trey.
With 11:16 to play, the Gators began their comeback with a 6-0 run that eventually ended with a three by Winjum for a 50-41 lead. BGMR began to pressure the Pirates who did not respond well turning the ball over and allowing the Gators to extend their 6-0 run to a 15-5 run and only trailed 52-50 with 5:53 remaining.
“We were a little unorganized with handling pressure,” Garmen said. “We have to do that a little bit better and rebound better. A little slow to react to things and we want them to be quicker.”
A layup by Lubarski gave the Pirates a 54-50 lead, but two baskets in a row by the Gators tied the game as the clock showed 2:27 left in the game. On Crookston’s ensuing possession, the Gators forced a turnover which ended in a layup and a foul. The BGMR player missed the free throw, but after the Gators stopped the Pirates, another score put the Gators up 58-54 with 1:29 to go.
“It was hard seeing the big lead go away and being down,” Lubarski said. “It’s kind of rattling, but we did a decent job all year of staying with it and keeping an even head.”
Lubarski then earned a trip to the line after a foul. Lubarski made the first shot and missed the second, but a rebound and putback by Osborn brought Crookston to within one with 1:16 left.
The Pirates attempted to force a turnover, but eventually fouled with the clock showing 22 seconds remaining in the game.
Osborn rebounded the missed free throw and passed the ball to Garmen. Garmen sent a long pass to Blake Fee who dished it back to Garmen just in time for Garmen to get the game-winning shot off.
With 13 seconds to go, Crookston needed one more stop on defense. A screen allowed the BGMR ball-handler to drive to the rim, but Osborn read the play and swatted away the potential game-tying shot and only 1.1 seconds showed on the clock.
“I saw the opportunity, so I just got inside a little bit more,” Osborn said. “I was in the right place at the right time.”
BGMR had time for one more desperation shot. Winand contested the shot out of the inbound and the shot went sailing past the rim and the Pirates celebrated a dramatic victory.
Garmen enjoyed the final few seconds, but admitted to being worried about a foul being called on Osborn’s block.
“I don’t know how he gets away with it,” Garmen said. “Usually in high school, that’s an automatic call, but he’s got long arms and big hands. He had good timing and that was key.”
The Pirates won their second game in a row and bumped up their record to 11-10. One more game remains on the homestand and it comes on Thursday, February 15 against Ada-Borup at 7:30 p.m.