Springfield outlasts CM/C 89-85 in OT in Section 2A finals

Staff photos by Steve Muscatello Springfield’s Decker Scheffler (15) and Isaac Fink celebrate after the Tigers defeated Cedar Mountain/Comfrey in the Section 2A championship game Friday at Minnesota State University Mankato. For more photos of this event go to cu.nujournal.com

MANKATO — There was no way Isaac Fink was going to let his team be denied a trip to the state basketball tournament.

Down by two with 11.3 seconds left in the game, Fink was called for traveling. It seemed like Springfield’s season was over and Cedar Mountain/Comfrey was going to advance.

But Fink somehow stole the ball in the CM/C backcourt, then got it to a teammate and that led to a Decker Scheffler basket with 4.7 seconds left, tying the game at 76-76.

The Tigers forced overtime, then Fink scored six points in the extra session in an 89-85 victory against the Cougars in the Section 2A boys’ basketball championship game.

Fink finished the game with 31 points to lead all scorers on Friday night. His steal and save as he was going out of bounds saved the season for the Tigers.

“My offensive game wasn’t all there tonight, but you got to make a play, you got to want to win,” Fink said. “If I had to make a steal, that’s what I was going to do. It was just a team win, we were talking, doing everything we had to do. It’s just a great win and I just love this team, it’s awesome.”

The Tigers advance to the Class A state tournament, which begins on Thursday. They will find out their opponent later this weekend.

Tied at 76-76 going into overtime, there were six lead changes in the extra session. But Fink scored with 38 seconds left to give Springfield an 87-85 lead. Fink hit two free throws with 2.2 seconds left to seal the state berth.

“We talked in the beginning about adversity and being able to fight through it, the old cliche is that it’s a game of runs,” Springfield coach Lance Larson said. “The goal was to be on the right side at the end and fortunately for us, the kids really fought hard.”

The Cougars and Tigers went back and forth in the first half. Derek Pendleton’s 3-pointer tied the game at 14-14, but the Tigers went up 25-17 on a free throw by Tanner Vogel with 9:17 left in the half.

As they were closing the gap, the Cougars’ Eli Samuelson hit a 3 and Dylan Hillesheim completed a three-point play to give the Cougars a 31-30 lead. They went on a 10-0 run to close out the half, leading 43-34.

The Cougars’ lead was 11 at one point in the second half, but a 7-0 Springfield run cut the gap to 51-46.

After CM/C junior Wambde Diaz fouled out with 5:36 left, CM/C’s lead decreased to 65-61. A Fink basket and a pair of free throws by him tied the game at 65.

Scheffler gave the Tigers a late 70-69 lead, only to see the Cougars re-grab the lead 76-74 on Justin Lumbar’s basket with 17 seconds to go.

There, Fink had the turnover before forcing one himself to send it to overtime.

Pendleton ended his career with 17 points. Hillesheim led the Cougars with 21 points and Lewis Pendleton had 16 points. Diaz finished with 10 points.

“It was an exciting game, glad we gave it our all,” CM/C senior Derek Pendleton said.

Scheffler, a freshman, scored 26 off the bench and also hit big shot after big shot. He said after the game he had some nerves early on.

“I’ve never been in an atmosphere like this before so I was a little bit nervous coming into it,” Scheffler said. “I got into the game and just kept rolling along, I got used to it.”

His coach was impressed.

“Decker just played a whale of a game, it was as good as I’ve seen from somebody off the bench,” Larson said. “It was just unbelievable.”

Vogel finished with nine points and Kale Meendering had 11 points.

“It was a back-and-forth game, but we just we had to keep fighting through it the whole time,” Vogel said.

Fink watched his older brother Alex win a state basketball championship in 2011. He won one in baseball last spring and now he hopes to get a shot at one in basketball.

“My brother prepared me for this, he said I’m going to remember this for the rest of my life and I definitely am,” Fink said. “This is a great feeling right now and I’m so happy.”


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