Wow. The Mighty Potter County Battlers make sure their fans know what adrenaline feels like.
It happened again on Tuesday night when the team brought home the Region 2B Championship on March 11, earning their second consecutive trip to the State B tournament.
In the exact opposite of what Potter County Battler fans expected, the Hitchcock/Tulare Patriots came on the court at the Barnett Center in Aberdeen with a fire lit under them. They used the first quarter to put a healthy spread in the score, jumping to a quick 11 points before Caleb Meinke finally put two points on the board for the Battlers.
Potter County fans were stunned as the team went to the bench. Tanner Heuer added three points to the score, tightening the lead to 10 points. The Battlers went into their zone and came back to life, but the first quarter ended with the score favoring the Patriots at 14-6.
During the second quarter the tenacious Battler defense was able to get the Patriots to turn over the ball, but had trouble making things happen when they got it. The score tightened up, and then Rease Logan put the Battlers within one point after nailing two shots from the free throw line. Kole Hawkinson got to the line and gave the Battlers a one point lead with his two foul shots, 19-18.
A three pointer by the Patriots just before the half time buzzer sent the Battlers into the locker room behind at 19-21.
The third quarter started out with Mitch Hinckley putting in a basket to tie the game at 21. Colten Hall connected on a three pointer, followed by another quick two points from Hawkinson to put the Battlers on top. Potter County spread the lead to 33-25 by the end of the third.
The final eight minutes of play got underway with the Battlers being patient with their ball handling until Ryan Sundberg got his hands on it to put up three points. In a nice role reversal from the first quarter, the score spread to a nine point lead for the Battlers. The Pats had different plans for the quarter and tightened up the spread to four points.
Chayce Hall got up to the foul line and dropped one to give the Battlers a five point lead.
A pair of free throws followed, which added two to the Patriot score.
Hawkinson went back to the charity stripe on a one-on-one, which he nailed before picking up the bonus shot. The score went back up to a five point lead for the Battlers. Then Potter County got called for a 10 second violation. On the Patriot possession, the Pats nailed a free throw before a double dribble penalty on the Battlers ended up with Hitchcock/Tulare getting into the bucket and tightening the Battler lead to a slim one point with just 21 seconds to play. Potter County came out on the floor, and Heuer headed to the foul line. With the score at 39-38 and just 10 seconds on the clock, the teams took a time out. Heuer had one shot left from the free throw line and it was right there. The two point game was 40-38 as the Hitchcock/Tulare player headed down the court. Battler fans held their breath when the Patriots put up a three point shot in the last second — and missed.
With that, the Battlers won the Region 2B Championship and are headed back to the State B tournament!
The low scoring game had a 20 point swing between the leads of these teams, with the Battlers starting out down by 10 then going up by the same number. In the end, it only took two to win it and send the boys to another State B Tournament!