Ben Katzner / Special to The Forum, Published March 14 2013
Immelman of Sartell catches errant shot, puts in game-winning basketST. CLOUD, Minn – For almost 40 minutes at St. Cloud State’s Halenbeck Hall on Thursday, Fergus Falls did just about everything right.
It was one thing that appeared to go right for Sartell in the game’s final seconds that boosted the Sabres to a 57-55 win over the Otters and a berth in the Minnesota Class 3A state boys basketball tournament.
After holding the ball for a final shot, Sartell’s Patrick Fischer missed a mid-range jumper that sailed into the hands of teammate Tim Immelman, who sank the putback and sealed the win in the Section 8 final for the Sabres.
“Once the shot went up, I saw it was long, and I was hoping it’d bounce long … but it landed in (Immelman’s) hands,” said junior forward Austin Rund, who was guarding Fischer in the game’s closing moments.
Immelman, a senior for the Sabres (17-12), said he thought the shot was in, but was perfectly content with getting a little lucky.
“I thought Pat was going to finish it. ... I guess I was just in the right place at the right time to get that layup,” he said.
After defeating Alexandria for the third time this season earlier in the week, there was plenty of talk about how hard beating a team three times in a season can be. The Otters were reminded of that fact Thursday.
Fergus Falls started on a 6-2 run thanks to senior forward Mike Millard, who scored three straight times for the Otters (18-11) and finished with 19 points and 10 rebounds. But soon the Sabres battled back to tie the game and quickly sent it into a back-and-forth battle where neither team had a lead larger than nine points.
“We just didn’t get off to a good start,” Fergus Falls head coach Dave Rund said. “They came out with a lot of confidence.”
Fergus Falls came into the game looking for its first section championship since 2004. Sartell, it seemed, came in looking for revenge.
“We knew we could beat them,” Immelman said. “All we had to do was play a complete game and that’s what we did.”
Sartell held a slight 23-20 lead at the half, but Austin Rund, who finished with 20 points, and Millard’s double-double gave the Otters enough opportunities to remain within striking distance the entire second half. Millard in particular made an impression on Sartell head coach David Angell.
“He is relentless. Anyone who says you have to be 6-foot-7 or 6-foot-8 to be good in the post, all you need to do is come watch him,” Angell said. “He’s one of the best players in our conference, if not the best.”
But having one of the best didn’t translate to victory for the Otters. Dave Rund said that it was the little things, and some luck that doomed the Otters in the long run. It also didn’t help that Fischer finished with a game-high 23 points.
“He’s going to get his points,” Dave Rund said. “He’s just a special player.”
He added: “We just didn’t get a break. They made plays and we didn’t.”
It wasn’t the ending that he wanted, but Dave Rund said he was proud that his team was still in the game in the closing seconds.
“We asked them to battle hard all night long, and they did that,” he said.
Half: S 23, FF 20
FF: Rund 6 4-8 20, Millard 7 5-7 19, Johnson 3 2-3 8, McAllister 1 1-5 3, Lemke 1 1-1 3, Hansen 0 2-2 2.
S: Fischer 9 4-8 23, Bearson 5 0-0 12, Immelman 4 1-2 9, Hagen 3 2-2 8, Lanners 1 0-2 2, Midas 1 0-0 2, Snoberger 0 1-2 1.