SHULLSBURG – There was no way Potosi was leaving Shullsburg with a victory last Thursday night. Pierce Russell wasn’t going allow that to happen.
The silky-smooth junior point guard went off for a career-high 34 points, including a clutch 3-point basket with a minute to play in the second overtime period, to lift the Miners over the visiting Chieftains, 71-64, electrifying in an Six Rivers West prep boys’ basketball game at SHS on Thursday, Feb. 16.
“I thought we showed a lot of resiliency throughout this game. There were several opportunities to put them away by way of converting a free throw or not turning the ball over, but we didn’t let those missteps affect our mental approach and continued to fight on. I am very proud of every one of these young men for staying in the moment,” said Shullsburg head coach Mark Lierman.
I’m extremely pleased with our perseverance. There were situations in the game when we could have folded, but the tone set by the players during every stoppage of play would not allow that to happen.”
Potosi (13-7 overall, 7-3 in SRW) took their first lead since late in the third quarter on a pair of free throws by Alex Wright that put the Chieftains ahead 64-62 with 1:12 to play in the second overtime period, but Russell sprint right down the court and swished home a cold-blooded 3-pointer with 1:01 remaining to put the Miners (12-8, 7-3) back on top 65-64.
Following a Potosi turnover, Russell threaded a pass to junior forward Hervey Trejo for a layup to extend the lead to 67-64, and senior guard Nate Carrier added a layup off a steal with 15.9 second to play to make it 69-64.
Russell and Trejo each added a free throw down the stretch to put the final nails in Potosi’s coffin.
“Pierce really took advantage of the opportunities that presented themselves during the game. It was impressive that he was in ‘the zone’ shooting, but I am equally impressed with his five assists and leading the team in rebounding. There is a lot of try in that young man. He would be the first to tell you it was a team effort,” stated Lierman.
Hervey always brings us energy when he gets in the game. Last night, he got extended playing time and made the most of it. I am extremely happy for him and I hope it shows some of the other guys that if you stick with it and play with passion, your opportunity will come someday.”
Shullsburg held a slim 29-26 lead at the half, but the Chieftains charged out in the third quarter and used a 8-4 run to go ahead 34-33.
The lead traded hands three more times in the quarter with Carrier nailing a late basket to put the Miners ahead 39-38 heading into the fourth quarter.
Shullsburg built up a 49-41 lead midway through the fourth quarter, however Potosi refused to go down without a fight. Hunter Leibfried scored six points to lead the Chieftains on an 8-3 run that cut the deficit down to 52-49 with under a minute to play, then Wright sank a 3-pointer with 44 seconds to play to tie the score at 52 all.
Potosi got the ball back with 15.5 seconds remaining in regulation and had two shots at a game-winner, but neither shot fell sending the game into overtime.
Russell kept the Miners in the lead during the first OT session by converting 4-of-7 free throw attempts to put the hosts up 58-56 with 16.8 seconds remaining.
Mitch Langkamp kept the Chieftains hopes alive by burying the game-tying shot with five seconds remaining, and Russell’s half-court heave at the buzzer was just a hair off the mark to force a second OT.
A 3-pointer by Collin Hauser put the Miners ahead early in the second OT, but Potosi’s Tim Fritz followed with a 3-ball of his own to tie the score at 62 all with 1:44 to play.
Wright gave the guests a brief lead with two free throws, but that was the final points for Potosi as Russell’s 3 kicked off a 9-0 run by the Miners to end the night.
“Potosi is a quality ball-club, but so are we. Since the first of the year, we have really come together from a chemistry standpoint. Our buying into the importance of that chemistry allowed us to hang tough down the stretch and through the two overtimes,” Lierman commented.
The win was the eighth straight at home for the Miners since starting the season 0-3 on the home floor, and it gave the Miners a season sweep over the Chieftains.
Russell went 5-for-7 from 3-point range and 7-for-14 from the foul line on his way to a career-high 34 points. He also pulled down eight rebounds and had five assists.
Hauser followed with 10 points, while Trejo added a season-high eight points along with seven boards and a steal. Carrier also had eight points, four assists and a steal.
Wright paced Potosi with 19 points. Langkamp netted 13 points, while Leibfried and Fritz tallied 12 apiece for the guests.
At Warren, on Tuesday, Feb. 14, the Miners outscored the host Warriors in each of the final three quarters to charge away with a 49-37 non-conference victory.
Pierce Russell led the way with 17 points, two assists and two steals; while Collin Hauser dropped in three 3s to finish with 15 points.
Jacob Scott added nine points, five rebounds, three assists and three steals, and Nate Carrier tallied seven points, five assists and two steals.
Shullsburg travels to Patch Grove to face River Ridge (8-12, 3-7) in their regular season finale on Friday, Feb. 24.
The Miners were seeded fourth in their sectional bracket for the upcoming WIAA Division 5 tournament and they will host Wauzeka/Steuben (6-13) in a regional quarterfinal contest on Tuesday, Feb. 28, starting at 7 p.m.
Potosi.…..…. 8 18 12 14 6 6 - 64
Shullsburg… 12 17 10 13 6 13 - 71
Leading Scorers: Pierce Russell 34, Collin Hauser 10, Nate Carrier 8, Hervey Trejo 8, Kyle Hoppman 4, John Meyer 4, Reid Schwartz 2, Jacob Scott 1.
Shullsburg… 14 13 9 13 - 49
Warren...…… 14 9 6 8 - 37
Leading Scorers: Pierce Russell 17, Collin Hauser 15, Jacob Scott 9, Nate Carrier 7, Kyle Hoppman 1.