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Fond du Lac Ojibwe advances at state with triple OT win - P2

MINNEAPOLIS - When Fond du Lac Ojibwe guard Trevontae Brown fouled out with 34.3 seconds left in regulation of the Minnesota Class A boys basketball quarterfinal against Canby on Thursday, the Fond du Lac senior couldn't help but think that was it.

His prep career was over.

Fortunately for him, his teammates had other ideas.

Davonte Williamson had 23 points and 20 rebounds, while Jordan Diver added 19 points, to lead Fond du Lac Ojibwe to an 85-82 triple-overtime victory over Canby before a raucous crowd at Williams Arena.

Fifth-seeded Fond du Lac Ojibwe (25-3), playing in its first state tournament, advances to play top-seeded Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa (29-1) at noon today at Target Center.

"When Trevontae, our only senior, went out, the guys just came together and said, 'Let's win one for Trevontae,'" Fond du Lac Ojibwe coach Earl Otis said.

With Red Lake playing in the following quarterfinal, thousands of American Indians showed up en masse to cheer on both clubs known as Ogichidaag, the Ojibwe word for warriors.

They're believed to be the only exclusive American Indian schools to ever play in the tournament.

"It's about native pride," Otis said. "This is something that brings our community together in a positive way, without any politics or differences. They believe in us."

One Northland coach said no lead is safe against Fond du Lac Ojibwe, but, apparently, no lead is safe for the Ogichidaag, either, as they got out of their style of basketball by trying to burn the clock late in the second half on Thursday.

Fond du Lac Ojibwe led by as many as 17 points in the second half before fourth-seeded Canby (25-5) mounted a furious rally behind senior guard Michael Slaba's game-high 35 points and Josh Gallegos' 21.

"They don't know how to quit, and that's the sign of a good team," Canby coach Jon Hanson said of his Lancers. "To these kids' credit, they battled back and battled back and pretty soon you're ahead. We had our chances, but so did Fond du Lac. We could go into detail on a free throw, a missed rebound, a travel, a non-call, whatever, but they could, too. At the end of the day the team that didn't come out on top was going to be disappointed."

Brown fouled out with 15 points. The Ogichidaag were already without playmaking junior Dexter Delille, who fouled out with about five minutes left in regulation after scoring 13 points. Williamson and gutsy guard Bruce Martineau, meanwhile, were visibly hobbling on the court.

The game was tied at 67, and Canby had all the momentum as Gallegos was stepping to the line for a pair of free throws.

Gallegos missed them both, but Williamson couldn't finish a drive on the other end as regulation expired.

"I can't even tell you how it felt sitting on the bench watching my team," Brown said. "You can't explain it - completely nerve-wracking. I'm so proud of my team. I have no words to describe how thankful I am for them stepping up and not letting my senior year end. This was the most intense game I've ever been in - fun, challenging, I loved it - every part except sitting out three overtimes, but that makes the fact I get to keep playing even more special."

Canby, which won all the jump balls with its decided height advantage, including the 6-foot-9 Nick Prokop, took a 71-67 lead with a couple quick baskets before Williams made a layup and Devyn Dupuis - like an off-the-bench ballerina - made a reverse layup from a ridiculously tough angle.

Dupuis has hardly played this season because of a concussion and ankle injury but was forced into action because of foul trouble to the starters.

"That was the biggest play of the game. That was probably his only points all season," Brown said, laughing. "We have so many contributors on this team. If they stop one, we'll go to the next, if they stop that one, we'll go to the next."

Gallegos got behind the defense for an easy basket, but Martineau tied it with a rebound putback with nine seconds to play, forcing a second overtime.

This one was relatively quiet, with Canby continuing to struggle from the field, even in close. The Lancers shot just 33.3 percent for the game, including 20.8 percent in the overtimes.

Williamson, who made a jumper to counter two free throws by Kristian Leppke, missed a jumper just before the buzzer to force a third overtime.

This was where the run-and-gun Ogichidaag amped up their defense to rattle off three quick baskets to take an 85-79 lead with 1:22 remaining. Just when Fond du Lac Ojibwe appeared to have the game in hand, Slaba drilled a 3-pointer from the top of the key to pull within three.

That's how it would stay, however, as Canby continued to misfire.

The 6-foot-3 Williamson made a steal with five seconds left and went in for an emphatic dunk, but he was fouled before the shot. He missed both free throws, but Slaba's final long-distance heave, the last of his prep career, was well off at the buzzer and throngs of Ojibwe erupted in celebration.

Had the Ogichidaag lost, they could have cried foul with Canby going 25-for-34 from the line compared to 4-for-14 for Fond du Lac, but after this one, the only tears were tears of joy.

Williamson had six points, nine rebounds, two steals, two assists and two big blocks in the three overtimes.

"As a captain, my team counted on me to pull us through," Williamson said. "Coach Otis told me before the second overtime we would put the ball in my hands at the end until we got that 'W.' Then we could head to the locker room, and I could take all the credit in the world. We were tired, we were injured, but we just had to dig a little deeper and we did."

Fond du Lac 36-31-6-2-10-85

Canby......... 29-38-6-2-7-82

Fond du Lac - Trevontae Brown 15, Cameron Thompson 7, Davonte Williamson 23, Jordan Diver 19, Dexter Delille 13, Bruce Martineau 6, Devyn Dupuis 2. Totals 36 4-14 85.

3-point goals - Brown 3, Thompson, Williamson, Diver 3, Delille.

Canby - Michael Slaba 35, Josh Gallegos 21, Kristian Leppke 15, Nick Prokop 8, Nathan Cooper 3. Totals 26 25-34 82.

3-point goals - Slaba 4, Leppke.


Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa advanced to its third Class 1A state tournament final in four years Friday with a 76-58 victory over Fond du Lac Ojibwe at Target Center.

Mr. Basketball finalist Brian Goodwin scored 25 points for Belgrade-Brooten Elrosa (30-1), which missed the state tournament last season after winning it in 2012.

The top-seeded Jaguars took a 6-0 lead and never looked back, despite several spirited runs by No. 5-seeded Fond du Lac. The Ogichidaag were playing less than 24 hours after a triple-overtime victory over Canby in the quarterfinals.

Check back later for more on the game.


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