With no time left on the clock at the end of the third overtime, Jason Cook stepped to the free-throw line with no around the lane and all eyes on him. With the game tied 68-68, Cook had three chances to give the Dell Rapids St Mary Cardinals a win in the opening round of the Dakota Valley Conference tournament. The first one bounced around the rim and fell away no good. Cook gathered himself and stepped back to the line. The second free throw went through the hoop, touching nothing but the net. Cook’s made free-throw gave the Cardinals the win. As a formality Cook had to take one more free throw, and he made it for the two-point win. Dell Rapids St Mary defeated the Lake Preston Divers 70-68 in three overtimes at Lake Preston on Monday, January 15th to advance the semifinals.
The Lake Preston defense frustrated the Cardinals through the first three quarters of play. The Divers jumped to a 9-2 lead with 3:14 to go in the first quarter. St Mary was able to end the quarter on an 8-2 run to pull within a point at 11-10 after the first quarter of play. The Cardinals were only able to score just eight points in the second quarter, and the Divers extended their lead to 22-18 at halftime. Both teams scored 12 points each in the third quarter, and Lake Preston continued to hold on to their four-point lead at 34-30 heading into the final quarter.
The Divers pushed the lead to 37-32 with 5:45 to play in the game, but St Mary closed the gap to one point over the next :30. Lake Preston held a 37-36 lead with 5:15 to go. After a timeout, the Divers outscored St Mary 7-2 over the next 2:30 of the game to extend their lead to 44-38 with 2:45 remaining. Lake Preston looked to be in position to get the win as they lead 46-41 with 1:00 left in the game. Weston Geraets stole an inbounds pass after a timeout and scored on a layup to make the score 46-43. The Divers were called for a travel with :37 on the clock. Connor Libis made a three-point shot from the top of the key with :28 to go to tie the game at 46-46. Connar Kangas then stole the inbound pass to give the Cardinals a chance to win it in regulation. Libis’ shot at the buzzer was no good, and the game went to overtime.
Lake Preston took an early three-point lead in the first overtime at 49-46. The two teams traded baskets over the next couple of possessions. St Mary took the lead with 2:12 to go at 52-51 after a made layup by Kangas. Libis pushed the St Mary lead to 53-51 with 1:55 play. Lake Preston tied the game with 1:20 to go at 53-53. Even though both teams had an opportunity to take the lead late in the overtime, neither team could score, and the game went to a second overtime. The two teams traded points over the first three minutes of the second overtime. The game was tied 57-57 with 1:15 remaining. Lake Preston took a 59-57 lead with 1:03 to go. After two defensive stops, the Divers converted one-of-two free throws with :19 left to push the lead to 60-57. On the next Cardinal possession, Libis sunk a three-point basket from the right wing with :03 remaining to tie the game at 60-60 and force a third overtime.
St Mary scored the first basket of the third overtime and was able to maintain a one-point lead over much of the period. Geraets made a right-handed layup from the right block with 1:22 to go to give the Cardinals a 66-63 lead. After a defensive stop, Libis went one-of-two from the free-throw line to push the lead to 67-63 with under a minute to play. The Divers were able to get a quick layup, and then fouled Libis in the backcourt with :45 left. Libis went one-of-two again from the line and the lead was three points. With :25 to go, Lake Preston made a three-point shot from the right wing to tie the game at 68-68. With the shot clock out of play, the Cardinals’ plan was to hold for the final shot. Libis dribbled near the top of the key for about 20 seconds. Libis passed the ball to Kangas on the left wing with :05 to go. Kangas got penetration to the free-throw line and dished a pass to Cook who was wide open on the right wing. Cook took the pass and launched a three-point shot at the buzzer that was off the mark, but he drew contact and a foul on the shot. That foul sent Cook to the line where he sank two of three free throws for the win.
The Cardinals finished the game shooting 33% from the field. Geraets finished with a team-high 23 points and 17 rebounds. Libis had 21 points. Luke Brown tallied 12 points. Kangas finished with eight points. Max Herber ended the night with four points and nine rebounds, and Cook finished with the game-winning two points.
St Mary (6-3) advances to the semifinal round of the DVC tournament and will face the Colman-Egan Hawks on Thursday, January 18th. The game will be played in Lake Preston at around 7:45 p.m. The game can be seen on Big Sioux Media.