When a team's got a playmaker as good as Oakes' Garret Meehl, sometimes they've just gotta let him play the game.
Meehl buried a game-winning, falling-down jumper at the buzzer Saturday to help Oakes defeat Ellendale 65-63 in overtime of the District 5 boys basketball tournament semifinals at the Jamestown Civic Center. The Tornadoes had 17 seconds to try and win the game after two free throws dropped in by Ellendale's Wyatt Henningson tied the score at 63-63, forgoing a final timeout because Meehl had things under control.
"I looked at him and he said, 'No.' No timeout," said Oakes coach Rod Kramer. "So we just let him go from there. I was a little worried we took too much time."
Oakes worked its offense and eventually got the basketball back to Meehl on the left wing with just a few seconds remaining. He made a quick move towards the lane, pulled up, and buried the contested shot on his way to the floor, finishing with a team-high 20 points.
"I just knew I had to get it up in a hurry," Meehl said. "Just work as a team, try to find the open man and hopefully get an open shot.
Ellendale's 6-foot-7 all-state center Scott Wagner did everything he could -- 37 points, 17 rebounds -- to try and lift the Cards past the Tornadoes for a second time since retaining the Cowbell over Oakes 22 days ago in Ellendale. But Oakes wasn't worried about Wagner.
The Tornadoes' Joey Heim was given the task of trying to stop Ellendale sharpshooter Riley Thorpe, the young man Oakes feared could be the linchpin to another Ellendale victory.
One day after burying seven 3-pointers and scoring 23 in Friday's quarterfinal victory over Griggs-Midkota, Thorpe finished 0 of 3 from distance and with eight points.
"Oh my gosh, he put on a heckuva effort today," Kramer said of his sophomore starter, Heim. "We told him we got one job for you tonight and that's just don't let Thorpe get hot from the 3-point line."
But Ellendale and its head coach Brian Vance knew that might be Oakes' game plan. So, Ellendale freshman Anton Geller seemed to come out of nowhere to bury a 3 and score seven of his 10 points in the third quarter, keeping the contest a two-possession game at 43-39 Oakes to start the fourth.
Oakes led 24-21 at the half, even as center Ashton Biesterfeld played just four minutes due to two quick fouls. Neither team converted a 3-pointer (0 of 14) in a sluggish first half.
"Everybody knows Riley, everybody knows Scotty, and somebody has to step up," Vance said. "And, (Geller) did. He had a helluva game for being a freshman and he's gonna be a heckuva player for us someday. But give credit to Oakes, they pressured us and we're playing 30 feet from the basket instead of attacking the basket.
"Give that Heim kid credit. He was all over Riley and we just gotta play through that."
Meehl got things rolling from the arc in the second half, burying back-to-back triples to begin the third. Ellendale would later fight back from nine points down to tie the game at 53-53 at the end of regulation behind 18 second-half points from Wagner prior to OT.
"That's the kinda player he is. He's tough to stop," Kramer said of Wagner. "He gets his points, he gets his rebounds, and every loose ball it seemed he got under the basket and put it back up and in."
Oakes never trailed in overtime, but the Cards tied the score three times -- trailing by as many as four -- before Meehl's dagger. Ellendale turned the ball over 17 times in the game and went just 1 of 13 from beyond the arc.
Steele Hansen finished scoring 18 for the Tornadoes.
"Ellendale's a tough team," Meehl said. "Gotta give it to them, every time we play them it's always close."
Ellendale will play Carrington in a Region 3 tournament qualifier on Monday at 4:30 p.m. Ellendale defeated Carrington by 31 last month.
"We told our guys it's do-or-die for the rest of the year," Vance said. "Just gotta go after it."
Oakes will play LaMoure/Litchville-Marion in the District 5 championship on Monday at 7:30 p.m. The Tornadoes got past the Loboes 64-46 on Feb. 2 in Oakes.
Oakes is looking for its first district tournament title since 2015.
"We're looking forward to Monday," Meehl said. "It's gonna be a good night, hopefully."
Titans keep season alive
Griggs-Midkota kept its season alive with a 67-63 overtime victory over Barnes County North in loser-out play, as all three games on Saturday went to OT. Second-ranked Edgeley/Kulm/Montpelier fell 49-46 in OT to LaMoure/Litchville-Marion in the semifinals.
Four players reached double figures in scoring for the Titans, Hunter Gronneberg (21), Logan Topp (18), Jayden Sherrard (14) and Tanner Haugen, as the Bison's season came to a close at 7-14.
Griggs-Midkota (5-16) has a tough draw Monday in its region qualifier, facing EKM (18-2) at 6 p.m. The Rebels were riding a 12-game winning streak prior to being upset Saturday by the Loboes.
District 5 Boys Basketball Tournament
At Jamestown Civic Center
Oakes 65, Ellendale 63 (OT)
OAK 11 13 19 10 12 -- 65
ELL 8 13 18 14 10 -- 63
OAK -- Garret Meehl 20, Steele Hansen 18, Ashton Biesterfeld 10, Joey Heim 8, Dalton Schmit 7, Ethan German 2. Totals: 26-58 FG, 3-17 3-pointers (Meehl 2, Schmit), 10-18 FT, 23 Rebounds (Hansen 8, Meehl 7), 19 Fouls (Biesterfeld), 12 Assists (Meehl 6), 8 Turnovers, 2 Blocks (German, Biesterfeld), 10 Steals (Heim 5, Meehl 3).
ELL -- Scott Wagner 37, Anton Geller 10, Riley Thorpe 8, Wyatt Henningson 4, Eric Blondo 4. Totals: 24-53 FG, 1-13 3-pointers (Geller), 14-18 FT, 40 Rebounds (Wagner 17), 21 Fouls (Levi Reis), 6 Assists (Henningson 2, Chance Durheim 2), 7 Turnovers, 4 Steals (Reis 2).
Records: Oakes 15-6. Ellendale 17-4.
Griggs-Midkota 67, Barnes County North 63 (OT)
GM 13 14 14 15 11 -- 67
BCN 11 20 13 12 7 -- 63
GM -- Hunter Gronneberg 21, Logan Topp 18, Jayden Sherrard 14, Tanner Haugen 12, Jaxon Gronneberg 2. Totals: 24-45 FG, 8-14 3-pointers (H. Gronneberg 3, Topp 2, Sherrard 2, Haugen), 11-17 FT, 30 Rebounds (J. Gronneberg 7), 19 Fouls (H. Gronneberg), 6 Assists (Topp 3), 26 Turnovers, 1 Block (Haugen), 9 Steals (Topp 3).
BCN -- Tucker Brown 25, Max Fehr 18, Jonah Harstad 8, Peter Bryn 6, Tanner Soupir 4, Colten Straub 2. Totals: 25-55 FG, 3-12 3-pointers (Brown 2, Harstad), 10-18 FT, 21 Rebounds (Fehr 5, Harstad 5), 19 Fouls, 3 Assists (Brown 2), 17 Turnovers, 15 Steals (Fehr 6, Brown 4).
Records: Griggs-Midkota 5-16. BCN 7-14.
(Tournament seeds in parentheses)
G1: (4) LaMoure/LM 56, (5) Carrington 33
G2: (2) Ellendale 59, (7) Griggs/Midkota 39
G3: (3) Oakes 56, (6) BCN 38
G4: Griggs/Midkota 67, BCN 63 (OT)
G5: LaMoure/LM 49, (1) Edgeley/KM 46 (OT)
G6: Oakes 65, Ellendale 63 (OT)
Region 3 qualifier: Carrington vs. Ellendale, 4:30 p.m.
Region 3 qualifier: Griggs-Midkota vs. Edgeley/KM, 6 p.m.
Championship: LaMoure/LM vs. Oakes, 7:30 p.m.
District 6 Boys Basketball Tournament
At Wishek High School
(Tournament seeds in parentheses)
G1: (5) Napoleon/GS 56, (4) Medina/PB 47
G2: (3) Kidder Co. 58 (6) South Border 33
G3: (1) Linton/HMB 73, Napoleon/GS 35
G4: Kidder Co. 66, (2) Strasburg/Zeeland 57
Region 3 qualifier: Medina/PB vs. Strasburg/Zeeland, 4 p.m.
Region 3 qualifier: South Border vs. Napoleon/GS, 5:30 p.m.
Championship: Linton/HMB vs. Kidder Co., 7 p.m.