Trailing 54-40 with 5:55 remaining in the game, few thought the Mankato West boys basketball team would be able to comeback against Marshall, a team they lost to by 28 points in December.
The Scarlets knew they could and did so, closing out regulation with a 20-6 run to force overtime against the section’s top seed.
In overtime, Marshall made a few more plays to hand West a dramatic 68-64 defeat in the Section 2AAA championship game Thursday night at Minnesota State's Bresnan Arena.
“Before the game we talked about refusing to lose,” said West senior guard Tyler Stoffel. “We showed it tonight.”
West trailed 48-40 with 6:13 left in the second half when Braeden Myers was called for a foul near half court. He then was whistled for a technical after his reaction to the call. The Tigers hit both personal foul shots, both technical free throws, and then two more following another personal foul to go up 14.
Sophomore forward Jake Dale led the Scarlets on their way back. He started with a putback, sank a pair of free throws, and added a lay-in to pull West within nine at 57-48 with 2:50 to go.
“It speaks volumes to the character of our kids,” said West coach Tom Boone. “We regrouped (after the technical) and said you can’t focus on that, stay positive and battle through it.
“Give our kids all the credit in the world to battle back from that. They had all the reason to quit and pack it in and they didn’t.”
Freshman guard Jake Makela, who was huge down the stretch in Saturday’s semifinal win over Worthington, came up big again in the final minutes Thursday. Down 58-52, he hit a 3 from the left corner with 1:35 left and then stole the ball at midcourt, drove down, made the layup and was fouled. He sank the free throw to knot the game at 58 with 1:20 to go.