By JASON EPP
Leader & Times
The Beaver Dusters faced a familiar foe in the Laverne Tigers in an elimination game at the Class A Area Tournament at the Chisholm Trail Expo Center in Enid, Oklahoma. Beaver rallied from a 17-point second half deficit, taking a one point lead in the fourth, but lost 44-41.
“There was a time in the third quarter we could have just hung our heads, and quit; but we showed a lot by coming all the way back to take the lead,” Dusters coach Garrett Bebermeyer said.
It also appeared that Kaleb McDonald had either tied the game at the end of regulation with a free throw attempt to come for the win or at least was headed to the free throw line with a chance to tie the game and send the game to overtime.
“I still don’t know what happened,” Bebermeyer said. “From my point of view he (McDonald) hits the shot. The ref on the baseline signals foul, and that the bucket is good. The ref up top signaled that he walked.
Bebermeyer asked the refs whether it was a two or a three.
“One of the refs responded that it doesn’t matter his foot was on the line,” Bebermeyer said. “I responded that it does matter because he was fouled so he’s going to the line to tie or win the game either way. The other ref said ‘He walked. Game over.’”
The final play was not the only controversy of the game. Logan Baldwin was mistakenly given a foul early in the game and fouled out early in the fourth. Garrett Weber, the Dusters leading scorer this season, sat six minutes of the second quarter because he was listed as having three fouls. It turns out he only had two.
Early in the game Beaver dug their own hole, falling behind 11-0 to start the game.
“I think the first quarter was strictly nerves,” Bebermeyer said. “We looked terrible.”
The Dusters battled back with 11 straight to tie the game early in the second quarter.
Laverne answered with an 8-0 run. Beaver finally got their first field goal of the second quarter when Baldwin scored with 1:45 left before half. Laverne scored the final three of the half to take a 22-15 lead to the locker room.
Beaver had their third scoring drought of the game in the third quarter. The Dusters trailed 33-15 before McDonalde drained a three with 1:45 left.
Laverne still led by 13 (35-22) heading into the fourth quarter.
Beaver started the fourth on fire, scoring the first seven to cut the gap to single digits (37-29) with over five minutes to play.
Beaver got hot with Weber draining two threes, McDonald hitting another to cut the lead to two with 2:45 left. Kalen Gabel converted a 3-point play moments later to give Beaver their first lead of the game, 41-40 with just over a minute to play.
Laverne did not convert a field goal in the fourth, but made 9 of 10 free throw attempts, including their last six in a row to hold off the Dusters.
Free throws were a huge difference in the game. Beaver was just 7 of 9, while Laverne was 19 of 23.
Kaleb McDonald led the Dusters with 13 points, and Kalen Gabel finished with 12.
“We were up and down most of the year, and struggled with injuries, but we got hot at the right time, and made a nice little run,” Bebermeyer said. “Our senior class was great for us and played really big when it mattered most. I’m really proud of the way we finished and excited about the future of Duster basketball.”
Beaver finishes the season with a 15-12 record.