With 2.4 seconds left, Plainview-Elgin-Millville’s Aeron Stevens heaved a ball down court. It got knocked out of bounds by Lake City. On the inbound pass, Kaiden Peters made a quick move, then released a deep 3-point shot all in 1.7 seconds. The shot went in as the buzzer sounded.
Peters’ game-winning shot came with the score tied and gave second-seeded PEM the Section 1AA final victory over No. 1 Lake City, 58-55, Thursday night at Mayo Civic Center.
“It doesn't surprise me at all. Kaiden is an astounding player and a great friend to me,” said Lake City junior Hunter Lorenson. “When he shot it, I looked away because I'm thinking, 'uh oh. It's probably going to go in.' It was very heartbreaking. What can you do? It's a tough way to lose.”
The Tigers, who had fallen behind 14-2 in the opening minutes of the game and later 51-42 in the second half, tied the game in the final minute after going on a 13-4 run.
Keegan Ryan came up with a timely block with the Tigers trailing 54-53. The Bulldogs missed a pair of shots in the final 1 minute, 30 seconds, getting a single free throw from Stevens. With 31.8 seconds to go, Jaden Shones lobbed a fantastic pass to the basket where Ryan was able to put it in with ease. That tied the game 55-55. The Bulldogs had a sideline inbound pass with under 20 seconds to go that was stolen by Shones. Running around the back side of Stevens, Shones came from the weak side to pick him clean. In attempting to get to the basket, Shones was called for traveling. From there, the down-court pass and eventual game-winner by Peters ended the game.
“We had opportunities and made them late,” said head coach Greg Berge. “I tell the guys all the time, in that setting unless you're in trouble, I'm going to let you play. That's gone in our favor a lot. Jaden made a fabulous play, Keegan made a fabulous play. All of the guys made plays late. (PEM) just made the last shot.”
All game long, the two biggest players on the court matched up against one another. PEM’s Stevens and Lake City’s Ryan Heise guarded each other for a majority of the game. In the first half it was both of them carrying their respective offenses. At the half, Stevens had 17 points and Heise had 12. The Bulldogs then became reliant on Stevens as he kept scoring, ending with 33 points.
Lorenson was able to be a second-half star for the Tigers yet again in this section tournament, scoring 12 of his team-high 17 points in the second half and leading the charge late in the game.
It was just the second loss for Lake City this season. They finished 26-2 overall.
“As hard as it is in this game and in this moment, it doesn't take away from the tremendous season that they had,” Berge said. “We didn't reach our goals but when you have two tremendous teams it's a heavyweight battle.”
PEM 58, LAKE CITY 55
PEM 27 31 — 58
LC 29 26 — 55
Aeron Stevens 33, 4 3-pt; Kaiden Peters 12, 1 3-pt; Jameson Brinkman 5; Nick Wozney 3, 1 3-pt; Chase Fogelson 3, 1 3-pt; Brady Herber 2.
Lake City 55
Hunter Lorenson 17, 1 3-pt; Ryan Heise 15, 3 3-pt; Keegan Ryan 10, 1 3-pt; Jaden Shones 9; Rylee Fick 4.
Free throws: PEM 9-14, LC 6-6.
Three-point goals: PEM 7, LC 5.
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