Spuds Spoil Magic
Winners of their last seven games and with a player on the verge of a major milestone, Moorhead hosted Monticello this afternoon. Let me cut to the chase, it all went the Spud's way but in a way that served as a reminder of why sports can be so great.
The first half was all Moorhead. It looked like it was going to be another blowout game but with the future collegiate player Maleeck Harden-Hayes going for 1,000 points, a lopsided victory seemed appropriate.
For most of the first half the Spuds controlled the pace and maintained a comfortable lead. A couple minutes into the second, Harden-Hayes picked up his fourth foul on a play that I still don't understand. Whatever the officials saw, whatever actually happened, it sent the star player to the bench. His teammates, many of whom will return for the Orange next season, showed everybody in the gym what that team may look like. They didn't miss a beat. For every point that the Magic scored, the Spuds were able to counter & they prevented enough scores to actually grow their lead. It was going so well that I started to wonder whether #23 would go back in the game. No point in an injury to the best player in a 20 point blowout. But it was a home game, and he was only two points shy of 1K.
About midway through the half I saw coach Bormann talking to his senior captain and getting a nod in response. Not long after Harden Hayes was in front of the scorers table, ready to check back in.
Any thought that it was a token reentry so that the achievement could be made at home was quickly dispelled. Moorhead's offensive flow seemed to struggle over the next few minutes, which created the opportunity that Monticello needed to make it a game again. They chipped away, cutting the deficit to nine with six minutes to play and even got as close as six points with under two minutes remaining. Can't fault the young man for wanting it to be an exclamation point moment but on several plays that could have been scores, Harden-Hayes went for the highlight instead of finishing in more basic ways. That's not to criticize, it just played a part in the comeback for the Magic.
After several attempts didn't fall, some inexplicably, a free throw line jumper proved to be his ticket into the club. The 10th player in Moorhead Spuds history to score 1,000 points. I suspect that number 11 is on this team as well but that's a fact for next year. It was a great moment which included a fully merited response by the home fans.
But that special moment didn't keep the game from becoming dramatic. It got to be a six point game, and both school's cheering sections were at full throat. But the Spuds made the final response, locking down enough on defense to keep it from getting closer while hitting their free throws when the foul game went into effect. And thus Moorhead walked away with everything they set out to do on the day, winning 88 - 77.
Beyond the fight that it took to comeback in the game, the Magic can also give themselves the credit of having four of their seven scorers in double figures, lead by Austin Wetter's 24. The game high performance was accompanied by 18 from Shawn Sellner.
As good as that is, the Spuds proved to be too multiple in their ability to score today. They also finished with seven players in the book, five of whom got to 10 points. Drew Hagen finished with the team high, 23, while Quentin Hegg was right behind him with 21 and MHH rounded out the top three with 15.
It was a game that had everything, and I think the game gallery actually reflects that - as well as still shots can. So take a peek but first a little bit of house keeping.
Player of the Game
As if his team leading offensive day wasn't enough, he stepped up to help fill the gap created by the foul absence of his co-captain. That's more than enough to earn PotG from me!
Photos of the Game
For the full game gallery, click the pic!