Ben Katzner / Special to The Forum, Published March 11 2013
Spuds nipped in overtime in semifinalsST. CLOUD, Minn. – In a game that featured 155 total points and overtime, the fate of the Moorhead boys basketball team came down to one-tenth of a second.
Spuds sophomore guard Cody Dorow was called for a foul that sent Elk River’s Terry Hadden to the free-throw line where he hit one and intentionally missed the second to propel Elk River to a 78-77 overtime win over the Spuds and into the Minnesota Class 4A, Section 8 championship game.
“For us, it’s humbling right now but that’s the way it goes and that’s the great thing about basketball,” Moorhead Head Coach Corey Zimmerman said. “We talked about how it ended and we talked about how we played. How we didn’t get down on ourselves.
“How we fought back, how we battled and how we were in the thick of it. You don’t want your guys to quit and be done with it. You want your guys to believe.”
After falling behind to second-seeded Elk River 16-7 early in the first half, that belief and the left arm of Moorhead senior Aaron Lien, who scored 24 first half points, pushed the No. 3-seed Spuds within striking distance of the Elks at the half. Moorhead trailed just 39-36 at the half and momentum seemed to turn in the team’s favor after a Cody Dorow steal and dunk in the half’s fleeting seconds.
“We had a slow start to begin the game but we had a few sparks to end the first half and we carried the momentum into the second.” said Lien, who will play basketball at Minnesota State Moorhead next season. “We knew that we had to chip at the lead and that’s what we did. Eventually we took the lead but unfortunately it wasn’t enough.”
After having their contest postponed Saturday due to inclement conditions, both Elk River and Moorhead had more storms to weather Monday.
For the Spuds, that storm came in the form of an equally relentless and methodical offensive attack by Elk River. Senior guard Terry Hadden finished with 24 points, including seven 3s, while junior forward Clay Elrod finished with 22 points.
The Elks, on the other hand, had to deal with a stellar performance from Moorhead’s Lien, who finished with 43 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks. Lien shot 13 of 16 from the field, 12 of 13 from the free-throw line and made all five 3-point shots he took.
“Lien was just phenomenal,” Elk River Head Coach Randy Klasen said. “I didn’t know if he was going to miss at all. I thought Moorhead played really well, it was just a great game.”
Once they pulled ahead in the second half, Moorhead took its first lead with 13:50 remaining in the half off an Austin Nelson jumper, it seemed that Lien and his teammates wouldn’t be on the wrong end of the scoreboard for the rest of the contest but a pesky Elk River team made sure that wasn’t the case.
The Elks pulled out to a 51-48 lead with 11:20 remaining and lead until Dorow, who finished with 16 points, nailed a 3-point shot to put the Spuds up 62-60.
Later in the half with the score tied 70-70 Lien had a chance to win the game for Moorhead, but his heavily contested shot hit off the front of the rim, giving Elk River new life.
In the overtime period, both teams fought hard and Elks had a slight 8-7 edge in points with Hadden’s Free throw being the difference maker. Whether his team won by 20 or one, Klasen was just happy to leave with a victory.
“I think the feeling I have is elation with a dose of relief,” he said. “That was a great high school basketball game.
For Lien the fact that his team played hard until the final buzzer was a source was a bright spot in a tough loss.
“I applaud each and every one of our guys, I thought that if we would have made a couple more plays it could have been different,” Lien said. “I’m extremely proud of everyone.”
Half: ER 39, M 36
End of regulation: ER 70, M 70.
ER: Hadden 24, Elrod 22, Edwards 14, Morrell 10, Howard 6, Person 2.
M: Lien 43, Dorow 16, Dobbins 8, Lawerence 6, Nelson 2, Doeden 2.