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Potter County wins first round at State B

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Dressed in red, the Mighty Potter County Battlers took to the court at the Barnett Center on Thursday afternoon for their first appearance in this year’s State B tournament. The fifth seeded Battlers took on the fourth seed Faith Longhorns to set the pace for the tournament, and advanced to the next round of play after a fun 61- 58 win.
Starting for the Battlers were Tanner Heuer, Kole Hawkinson, Caleb Meinke, Mitchell Hinckley, and Chayce Hall. Coach Bryce Hall and assistants Tim Hagedorn and Jason Hanson were on the sidelines.
The Battlers drew first blood with a quick layup and a couple three pointers, and it didn’t take long to jump to a 10-3 lead. The Longhorns tightened that up to tie the game, and at the buzzer Faith drew a foul and nailed all three shots from the free throw line, which gave the lead to Faith for the first time in the game.
The Battlers brought the score back to an even 15 off a three point shot made famous by Kole Hawkinson during last year’s state tourney. Faith went to work and put a spread in their lead. With a minute left to play, Chayce Hall went to the line and brought the Battlers back within one. A foul drawn by the Longhorns put the score at 22-25 with under 30 seconds to go, and with a tenth of a second left, another free throw spread the score to 22-26 with the Longhorns leading as they went to the locker room at the half.
The second half got underway with a quick score by Mitch Hinckley followed by a steal and layup by Chayce Hall to tie up the game. Hall followed with a three pointer to spread the Battler lead. Tanner Heuer snapped off a steal and dropped one in the bucket, giving the Battlers a one point lead. Faith took the lead back on the next play and held onto it during the rest of the quarter, ending the third with the Longhorns on top 31-42.
There were just eight minutes left to decide who got to move up the bracket and play on Friday night, and the Battlers got back to work to make sure they were invited to the party. Tanner Storer put up a three pointer, then added another three, cutting the Longhorn lead to six. Chayce Hall fouled out, but the Battlers stayed strong and brought the team within four with two minutes left. Hawkinson tightened it up with another three point play to bring it to a one point game, and Hinckley tied it up from the free throw line at 53 points. With a minute left, Storer went to the line and dropped both free throws for a two point lead.
In true Battler form, there was a lot of game left. Just wait a minute.
With 52 second left, Storer went back to the line and swished another two baskets.
The Longhorns were out of time outs and behind by four. They went to the free throw line and dropped in one point. Faith went to the line again, making it a two point game with 27 seconds to go.
Meinke went to the line for Potter County, swished the first basket, then the second, and the Battlers were up by four. The clock ticked down to 12 seconds and a Faith basket added two and took them to the free throw line for one more point. The Battlers were on top by one point with eight second on the clock. Hawkinson was at the line for the Battlers where he added two points.
Both teams were out of time outs with the Battlers up by three. The last second shot by the Longhorns didn’t connect, and the Mighty Potter County Battlers added another win to their record and headed to the semi-final round of play. The next night the team prepared to take on the top seeded James Valley Christian in the semi-final round of the tournament.
-Molly McRoberts
Stats
POTTER COUNTY (22-2): Tanner Heuer 1 0-2 2, Kole Hawkinson 5 3-4 17, Caleb Meinke 7 2-2 17, Mitchell Hinckley 1 1-2 3, Chayce Hall 5 1-2 12, Colton Hall 0 0-2 0, Rease Logan 0 0-2 0, Tanner Storer 2 4-4 10. Totals 21 11-20 61.
FAITH (19-4): Jarius Halligan 6 1-1 15, Josh Afdahl 0 3-3 3, Tyler Hohenberger 6 13-17 25, Rio Hulm 2 3-3 8, Jaelani Uthe 1 0-0 2, Dalton Sheridan 1 0-0 3, Wyatt Schuelke 1 0-0 2. Totals 17 20-24 58.
Potter County 10 22 31 61
Faith 13 26 42 58
3-point field goals — Hawkinson 4, Meinke, Ch. Hall, Storer 2, Halligan 2, Hulm, Sheridan. Total fouls — Potter County 20; Faith 17. Fouled out — Chayce Hall. Rebounds — Potter County 24 (Ch. Hall 5, Storer 5); Faith 33 (Hohenberger 11). Assists — Potter County 11 (Ch. Hall 11); Faith 7 (Halligan 2). Turnovers — Potter County 17; Faith 22. Steals — Potter County 12 (Meinke 2); Faith 10 (Halligan 4).

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