SLEEPY EYE - In front of a sellout crowd, Sleepy Eye St. Mary's finally passed the 100-point barrier - and it came just in the nick of time.
Adam Sellner knocked down five free throws in the final minute as the Knights held off a late rally for a 105-100 victory over Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City on Thursday night in the Section 2A, North Subsection semifinals.
Sean Mathiowetz led the Knights with 23 points and eight assists. Sellner came off the bench and scored 21 points, while Kansas Adams added 18.
Staff photo by Steve Muscatello
Sleepy Eye St. Mary’s Adam Sellner (22) takes a shot as Trever Heining (34) looks on during the second half of the Knights’ Section 2A playoff win Thursday at SESM.
For more photos of this event go to cu.nujournal.com
Sellner began to fire up with 4:20 remaining as he hit one of St. Mary's 15 3-pointers. Then he nailed another trey with 3:45 to go as he ran down the gym floor pumping his fist, which appeared to be the knockout punch as the Knights took a 91-76 lead.
However, it was all but over.
The Falcons went on a 22-10 run and all of the sudden it was a one-possession game, 101-98 with 10 seconds left. ACGC head coach Terry Miller was out of timeouts but choose to call a technical timeout - allowing St. Mary's to choose any shooter to take two free throws, followed by the Knights regaining possession. St. Mary's head coach Tim Milliard had no one else in mind other than Sellner.
"It was just my gut feeling at that moment of the game," Milliard said about choosing red-hot Sellner over leading-scorer Mathiowetz. "He was shooting with a lot of confidence - he is one of those guys that wants the ball in those situations."
Sellner made the most of his opportunity by sinking both free throws, then he made two more after St. Mary's received the ball following the technical foul to put the game away in the clutch.
"The crowd was pretty loud, man," a very happy Sellner said. "I was just relaxed, taking easy shots. I mean it's you and the basket."
It appeared that St. Mary's was going to win in blowout fashion early on as the Knights held a 26-10 lead midway through the first half. But ACGC went on a huge run as it cut the Knights' lead to 43-40 going into the break.
St. Mary's built a 78-64 lead with just under seven minutes to go in the game, and then it ran into some foul trouble.
Jordan Anderson (16 points) picked up his forth foul of the game and then less than a minute later Jon Milliard picked up his forth foul.
Just 26 seconds later Milliard got tagged with his fifth foul and was fouled out. ACGC's Dylan Hoerchler nailed two free throws to complete a 10-0 run and just like that the Falcons were within four points, 78-74, with 5:20 remaining.
Anderson finally ended the drought with a 3-pointer that brought the crowd to its feet. Coach Miller was hit with a technical foul on the following possession and Mathiowetz made both free throws to put St. Mary's up 83-74 with just under five minutes to go, setting up St. Mary's to do what it has done so well this season - closing out games.
ACGC's lone senior Trever Heining scored 35 points and grabbed nine rebounds in his final game. Jake Belgum added 31 points.
The Knights improve to 22-4 and have now won nine games in a row. Sellner said the win has given his team plenty of energy heading into the Section 2A, North championship game, which will be played at Gustavus Adolphus College.
The Knights will take on Cedar Mountain/Comfrey at 5 p.m. at GAC in St. Peter. St. Mary's has defeated the Cougars twice this season already, 78-73 on Dec. 8 and 87-69 on Jan. 24.