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Fieldcrest senior Brady Sanders walks off the court as he is consoled by Jackson Puetz (No. 1) after the Knights’ 39-38 loss to Monmouth-Roseville in the Class 2A Farmington Sectional championship Friday. NewsTribune photo/Amanda Whitlock
Fieldcrest senior Kyle Crowley (No. 3) dribbles up the court during the Knights’ 39-38 loss to Monmouth-Roseville in the Class 2A Farmington Sectional championship Friday. NewsTribune photos/Amanda Whitlock
FARMINGTON — Friday night, for the second straight season, the Fieldcrest and Monmouth-Roseville boys basketball teams engaged in an epic sectional final showdown.
But this time around, the Knights could not survive their clash with the Titans as Monmouth-Roseville picked up a 39-38 victory in the Class 2A Farmington Sectional championship to avenge last year’s double-overtime sectional defeat.
The Knights had several chances to tie or take the lead in the closing moments of the contest, but could not come up with a big play down the stretch.
Senior standout Brady Sanders missed the front end of a bonus opportunity at the foul stripe with 10.8 seconds left and the Knights down 39-38.
Moments later, M-R junior Dalton Hottle — who put the Titans in front for good at 39-38 on a jumper from the elbow with 1:44 left in the game — kept the Knights hopes alive when he also couldn’t connect on a bonus free throw chance.
Fieldcrest freshman Drew Barth secured the rebound to give the Knights one more chance, and on the other end of the floor, Jackson Puetz pushed up a baseline jumper from the left side, but the shot drew iron and bounced out.
Knights senior Kyle Crowley and Hottle tied each other up on the rebound and tumbled to the hardwood as the buzzer sounded and jubilant Titan fans stormed the floor.
But the officiating crew signaled for a retroactive jump ball, reestablished order and replenished 1.2 seconds back on the game clock.
Unfortunately for the Knights, the possession arrow favored the Titans and all it took was one long lob downcourt on the ensuing inbounds pass to tick off the final time and lock up the one-point victory.
“You can’t come down to one play. We had many, many plays (that went wrong), turned the ball over way too many times. Their full-court pressure didn’t really bother us — their half-court maybe a little. We just didn’t settle in tonight and we had a tough time scoring,” said Fieldcrest coach Matt Winkler, whose squad finishes the season 25-6. “Our defense was outstanding. They just got a few putbacks and that was the difference. It was two great teams going at it.”
Points did not come easy in the contest with both squads playing tight defense.
Fieldcrest led 6-5 after the first quarter, but fell behind early in the second as M-R staked a 10-2 run to go up 15-8 on a three-point play from 6-foot-6 junior forward Trayvon Smith.
The Knights responded with a 10-2 run of their own over the final four minutes of the quarter to take an 18-17 lead into intermission on a Puetz 3-pointer from the left corner.
The two teams traded the lead early in the third before M-R registered four straight points in the final two minutes to take a 29-25 lead into the closing quarter.
The Titan lead extended to 37-31 just inside of four minutes left, but Fieldcrest would not be content to quit.
Barth knocked down a 3-pointer at the 3:20 mark, and after a Titan turnover, Crowley followed suit to pull Fieldcrest within one.
Cole Klendworth continued the Knights’ rally with a pair of free throws at the 2:06 mark to give Fieldcrest a 38-37 advantage — their first lead since midway through the third quarter.
The advantage was short lived, however, as Hottle deposited his jumper 16 seconds later to put M-R in front for good.
Hottle led all scorers with 14 points. Martell Hunter added 12 points, while Smith chipped in eight and added a team-best eight rebounds for the Titans (26-4).
Sanders and Barth tied for the Fieldcrest team lead with 11 points apiece. Sanders added a team-high eight rebounds, and Crowley contributed seven points and four rebounds.
The defeat signals the end of the careers of Crowley, Sanders, Klendworth and Nick Panzica, who went 54-9 over the past two years in the blue and white.
With the victory, M-R advances to the Class 2A NIU Super-Sectional where it will face Winnebago — 74-52 winners over Sterling Newman at the Byron Sectional.
Chris Yucus can be reached at 220-6995 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsChris.
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