The Maple Grove Boys Basketball team found a way to win and overcame a strong shooting performance by the Armstrong Falcons.
The first half was a bit vanilla as both teams traded baskets early. Austin Paul gave the Crimson an early spark off the bench as he made 5 straight points to extend the Crimson lead to 17-13. Maple Grove, (now 2-3 overall and 2-1 in the conference) maintained a lead of 3-5 points in the first half. Armstrong had 7 fouls quickly and the Crimson took advantage, making 8 of 10 free throws to lead 34-33 at the break.
Erik Olson opened the second half with a hoop and the hack to complete an old-school three point play. Jake Wieneke followed with a bucket on an assist from Brycen Wojta. On the ensuing trip, Olson blocked a shot, Brandon Barta picked up the ball and fed Wojta for a layup and an 8 point lead. The Crimson extended their lead to 11 on an rebound and put back by Olson. But the lead quickly vanished as the Falcons rattled off 10 straight to eventually tie the game at 53 with 8:33 in the second half. Luckily for the Crimson, Wojta's back was wide as he carried the team with drives to the basket and clutch 3 pointers. Wojta, who was recognized prior to the game for being only the fourth Crimson player to pass 1,000 points in the 17 year history of the school, scored 15 of his game high 24 points in the second half.
In the final minute, after Elliot Kane's 5 straight points gave the Crimson a 71-67 cushion, things got interesting. The Crimson missed a defensive rebound and a scramble for the ball saw both teams on the floor with the ball, only to have it get knocked away. When the dust cleared and leading by 6, the Crimson fouled an Armstrong shooter with 5 seconds to play. People who were headed for the exits decided to stay as Armstrong took a timeout. After the Falcons made the first free throw, they quickly executed the-perfect-flat-shot-off-the-rim-to-teammate-put-back-for-2 play, to make it 73-70.
Now the Crimson needed a timeout.
Wieneke was fouled on the in bounds pass, but the free throw attempt was short, and Grant Kaufman was clipped as he chased down the ball. Now it is Falcon ball, 75 feet away with 1.1 in the game. A desperation shot was off and the Crimson escaped Teacher Appreciation Night with many lessons learned, in a 73-70 win.
Thursday night the Crimson travel to Centennial for their final conference game in December.