Alex Huber missed Edgeley/Kulm/Montpelier's first meeting against Strasburg/Zeeland this season to a minor knee injury, but the 6-foot-4 junior forward didn't miss the last on Thursday at the Jamestown Civic Center.
The Rebels are finally the Region 3 champions in boys basketball. Huber poured in a game-high 25 points and Edgeley is going back to the Class B state tournament for the first time since winning a state title in 1990, rolling to a 63-55 victory over Strasburg/Zeeland in the championship game of the Region 3 tournament.
EKM lost to the Clippers, 50-47, on Jan. 3 with Huber suited up but not placed on the court. The loss was EKM's first in four games to start the season.
"It was probably one of hardest games I've ever had to watch," Huber said. "This feels great. I don't know how to explain it."
Huber nailed a 3-pointer and scored eight points in a first quarter that witnessed nine lead changes. The Rebels led 14-13 after one and received 10 massive points off the bench in the second frame before EKM's Jace Hanson buried a 30-foot buzzer-beater at the horn to send the Rebels into the half holding a six-point, 37-31, lead.
It was Hanson's first 3-point bucket after missing four to start. Hanson, a senior, has been riding the EKM rollercoaster as the Rebels reached and fell in the region championship game in both 2016 and 2018. Strasburg/Zeeland was three points better than the Rebels in 2016.
"I wasn't hitting in the first half, but I felt confident on that and I knew it was money right when it went off my hand," Hanson said of his electric finish to the half. "We've been working on this for four years. I'm so proud of all my teammates."
The Rebels' Paxton Mathern and Adam Nitschke both converted 3-pointers off the bench in the second quarter, while junior Jorgen Paulson scored four. The Clippers turned the ball over five times in the opening eight minutes but settled down in the second and were led at the break by a pair of 3-pointers and seven points from junior guard Mac Kramer and Jordan Huizenga's eight points.
Huber scored six of his 25 in the third, as EKM led 52-42 to begin the fourth. His pair of foul shots at the line with 3:23 remaining in the third pushed the lead to double digits for the first time at 46-35.
The third time was finally the charm for head coach Kevin Strobel and the Edgeley/Kulm/Montpelier boys basketball co-op.
"It feels awful good," Strobel said. "We thought we had a little bit of an inside advantage, so we just kept stressing if it's there give it to (Huber). The kids just made plays down the stretch."
A conservative offense by EKM in the fourth helped fuel a 6-0 Clippers run the slashed a 12-point EKM lead in half at 58-52 with three minutes left to play. But shots were hard for the Clippers to come by down the stretch. Strasburg/Zeeland converted 9 of 28 from the field and 2 of 14 from 3-point range in the second half.
The Clippers' Jake Wagner (14 points), Hunter Haak (12) and Mac Kramer (12) all reached double figures in scoring. Hanson finished scoring 12 for the Rebels.
"It is a different game having (Huber), it gives them another weapon to prepare for," said Strasburg/Zeeland coach Jacob Cline. "We were getting stops, the problem was we just weren't making our own buckets there at the end. Our offense just didn't bring it tonight, but overall we played a great season."
A Huber bucket ended Strasburg/Zeeland's spurt with less than 2 minutes to play and the Rebels closed the game converting 3 of 5 at the foul line.
"Bring the intensity like we have the last few games," Huber said. "I trust my teammates, they trust me, and I knew we could make it happen."
The Class B boys basketball tournament begins next Thursday at the Bismarck Event Center. The eight-team tournament will be seeded on live television tomorrow (March 13) at approximately 2:45 p.m. in conjunction with the Class A state basketball tournament on WDAY and ABC affiliates.
Huber's dad, EKM assistant coach Bryan Huber, was a player on the 1990 Edgeley Ranger championship team.
"I was a lot younger," Bryan Huber smiled. "They haven't been back since we were there and it's been a goal to get back."
"It's something we've worked for all year long," coach Strobel concluded. "We're looking forward to going to Bismarck."
Region 3 Boys Basketball Tournament
At Jamestown Civic Center
Edgeley/Kulm/Montpelier 63, Strasburg/Zeeland 55
EKM 14 21 17 11 -- 63
SZ 13 18 11 13 -- 55
EKM -- Alex Huber 25, Jace Hanson 12, Cale Mathern 7, Adam Nitschke 6, Jorgen Paulson 6, Chayse Entzi 4, Paxton Mathern 3. Totals: 24-47 FG, 6-16 3-pointers (Hanson 2, Nitschke 2, Huber, Mathern), 9-11 FT, 29 Rebounds (Huber 6), 12 Fouls, 15 Assists (Hanson 5), 9 Turnovers, 2 Blocks (Huber 2), 3 Steals (3 with 1).
SZ -- Jake Wagner 14, Hunter Haak 12, Mac Kramer 12, Jordan Huizenga 8, Jesse Rohrich 5, Max VanderVorste 4. Totals: 21-50 FG, 4/17 3-pointers (Kramer 3, Rohrich), 9-13 FT, 25 Rebounds (Haak 7), 16 Fouls, 8 Assists (Huizenga 3), 10 Turnovers, 1 Block (Haak), 4 Steals (Haak 2).
Records: EKM 20-4. SZ 18-6.
Senior Athlete of the Year: Seth Nelson, Carrington.
Coach of the Year: Brian Vance, Ellendale.
Oakes 75, Ellendale 73
ELL 15 19 23 16 -- 73
OAK 23 16 24 12 -- 75
ELL -- Scott Wagner 18, Hunter Thorpe 14, Riley Thorpe 11, Eric Blondo 10, Caleb Hauck 7, Kodie Slivoskey 4, Levi Reis 3, Ian Wagner 2, Wyatt Henningsen 2, Joe Tschosik 2. Totals: 32-58 FG, 8-18 3-pointers (R. Thrope 3, Blondo 2, H. Thorpe 2, Hauck), 1-1 FT, 26 Rebounds (S. Wagner 5), 8 Fouls, 10 Assists (Slivoskey 2, Blondo 2), 9 Turnovers, 1 Block (H. Thorpe), 7 Steals (Slivoskey 3).
OAK -- Steele Hansen 21, Garret Meehl 19, Alex Nelson 11, Ashton Biesterfeld 11, Carter Deering 10, David Schmitz 3. Totals: 31-52 FG, 12-22 3-pointers (Meehl 5, Nelson 3, Deering, Schmitz, Hansen, Biesterfeld), 22 Rebounds (Biesterfeld 7, Hansen 7), 8 Fouls, 13 Assists (Meehl 4), 10 Turnovers, 6 Steals (Meehl 2, Schmitz 2).
Records: Oakes 16-9. Ellendale 16-9.