|Holyoke Dragon heartbreak at the hand of Heritage Christian|
|Written by Chris Lee|
It definitely wasn’t how they wanted to go out.
With 6.4 seconds left on the clock Friday, March 2 in the regional semifinal game at Metro State College in Denver, Heritage Christian inbounded the ball underneath Holyoke’s basket. The score was tied at 60 all.
What was Holyoke’s plan? Don’t foul and don’t let them score.
The Eagles’ speedy point guard Matthew McGinley took the ball up the court, wove his way through Dragon defenders and put up a left-handed lay up as time expired.
Heartbreaking looks immediately hit the faces of the Dragon bench and those coming off the floor.
With the lay up, Heritage Christian moved into the Regional Championship game and Holyoke headed back east as their season was done.
The Dragons finished the year with an 11-12 record which included a district runner-up finish.
“I’m super proud of the boys,” coach Scott Dille said. “That’s the main thing. Those kids worked so hard this year. They always put everything they have into it.”
Coach Scott Dille talks with the team during the fourth quarter of Friday’s regional basketball game against Heritage Christian. —Enterprise photo
The coach said it was pretty tough to end the season the way they did. He felt the team, over the last three or four weeks, had been playing the way they were supposed to be playing which was evident during the post season run.
Holyoke started out a bit slow last Friday. After scoring the opening bucket to take a 2-0 lead, Holyoke slowed and watched the Eagles build up a 15-5 advantage midway through the opening quarter.
Reid Baumgartner started a slight momentum switch putting in two buckets—he was fouled on the second and converted the old fashioned three-point play to cut the lead to five.
Heritage made a three-pointer to open the game back up a bit. Holyoke would get a bucket from Austin Killin following a nice offensive rebound. Heritage answered with a two-pointer but Deyten Klein got the Dragon faithful out of their seats with a shot from downtown to pull Holyoke within five, 15-20.
Baumgartner nearly sunk a half court shot as time expired on the first period.
Logan Tharp got things rolling in the second quarter making back-to-back field goals to pull the Dragons within one point, 19-20. The two teams then traded buckets with the Heritage lead never exceeding six points.
The Eagles took a 31-25 lead into the locker room.
The third quarter was much of the same back and forth play. Holyoke closed in on the lead and trailed by three, 35-38 heading into what teams thought would be the final period of play.
Killin, working down low, grabbed another nice offensive board and dropped in a shot for two to bring Holyoke within one point, 37-38. From there Heritage turned on the heat and went on a 10-0 run to open things back up.
Not panicking, Holyoke battled back. Tito Fierro drained a three to kick the surge off. He came right back and added another two. After a field goal by the Eagles, Holyoke went on a 10-1 run to grab their first lead, 52-51, since leading 4-3 in the opening minutes of the ball game.
With 1:20 remaining, Holyoke fouled a Heritage Christian player who made the front end of the one-and-one.
Hoping to run the clock down for a last shot, Baumgartner was stripped with only seconds left. The Eagles threw up a desperation shot from half court and missed, sending the game into overtime.
Logan Tharp goes up strong during Holyoke’s heartbreaking
To begin the extra period, Baumgartner and Tharp each dropped in field goals to give Holyoke a 56-52 lead—the Dragons’ largest of the game.
Trevor Dalton was called for a foul with just over two minutes remaining. Heritage converted both shots from the charity stripe to pull within two. With 1:24 left, Klein was fouled and sunk both free throws. Twenty seconds later, the Eagles dropped in another two-pointer.
With 30 seconds remaining, Killin was whistled for his fifth foul and was forced to sit. Heritage Christian made the first of the two free throws to come within one, 57-58.
The Eagles, desperate to stop the clock, fouled Baumgartner who calmly nailed both free throws with 25 seconds left in the game.
As they did all game, Heritage Christian found success from beyond the arc and threw up a long ball and sunk it with only a few seconds left to tie the game at 60.
Holyoke had a chance to put the ball through the net with time running down but the shot never fell. Heritage Christian recovered and called a time out with 6.4 seconds left on the scoreboard. From there, McGinley took it and scored the game winning shot.
“I couldn’t ask for anything more from them (team),” Dille said of the team. He noted the boys were pretty down and quiet following the emotional loss. “This group is particularly close,” the coach said. “When you invest so much and work so hard for each other, you don’t want to give it up.”
The Eagles found great success from the long ball, putting in 11 three-pointers. “It’s tough to counter that,” Dille said.
The coach said the team will definitely miss the leadership from the group of seniors. He also noted they will have a lot of work to do next year but the younger kids have gotten some good experience on the court this season which should help on down the road.
Baumgartner led the Dragons with 20 points. Klein finished with 11 and Dalton 10.
It was a tough pill to swallow Friday night, March 2. Trevor Dalton, at left, and Tito Fierro walk off the
Denver Christian wins 2A Region 4 Championship
Following the overtime victory, Heritage Christian met up with undefeated Denver Christian Saturday, March 3 in the regional championship and fell 28-46.
Denver Christian moves on to the eight-team field in the Class 2A State Tournament in Pueblo as the No. 1 seed.
Holyoke Enterprise March 8, 2012