By Rob Gray, Correspondent
DES MOINES — Odd. Weird. Bizarre.
An array of abnormal adjectives could aptly describe the ending to Monday’s Class 2A state tournament semifinal between top-seeded MFL/Mar-Mac and Sioux Center.
All that matters to the Bulldogs: They won their first game at state since 1997, holding on for a 73-72 triumph over the Warriors at Wells Fargo Arena.
“I’ve never seen an ending like that before,” said MFL/Mar-Mac coach Eric Dettbarn, who’s team led 70-69 and prepared to play defense with 9.2 second left when Sioux Center was assessed a technical foul. “I couldn’t even tell you what was going to happen.”
Here’s what did: The Warriors’ Beau Boer committed his fifth foul with 10.6 seconds left. Sioux Center subbed in two players — but Boer remained on the court. MFL/Mar-Mac’s Jacob Dotzler missed two free throws and players scrambled for the rebound making Boer a disqualified player competing in a live situation.
Officials conferred, called the technical and the Bulldogs’ C.J. Mason hit two free throws. MFL/Mar-Mac also got the ball out of bounds and Mason sank the-game-sealing free throw to put his team up 73-69 with eight seconds left.
“We had no idea what happened,” said Mason, who led four Bulldogs in double figures with 17 points — with six coming in the final 1:45. “We heard the refs say something about a technical foul and I wanted to step up and hit the shots. I knew I was going to make them.”
Dotzler thought he would, too, before shockingly missing two amid the strange game-ending chain of events.
He entered the game 18 of 19 from the line and hit two clutch free throws with 28 seconds left to make the score 70-67.
“I’m always thinking I’m going to make them,” said Dotzler, who scored 13 points as his team won its 21st straight game. “I mean, 18 of 19 on the year. I’m always trying to keep it going.”
Brandon Hertrampf notched 12 points and Dalton Dettbarn added 11 for the Bulldogs (24-1), who used a 12-2 run to take a 13-point lead early in the second half but had difficulty dealing with Sioux Center’s length and athleticism.
“They had kids that could get to the rim on us,” Eric Dettbarn said. “We’re very fortunate they didn’t finish all the time.”
The Warriors hoped to finish inside of 10 seconds, but the substitution snafu precluded that possibility.
“Take your heart out, step on it for a while, cut it up in a meat grinder and throw it in the garbage,” Sioux Center coach Todd Arends said. “That’s how I’m feeling.”
Andrew O’Donnell did drill a 3-pointer with 2.4 seconds left, but the Warriors (18-7) had no timeouts remaining and MFL/Mar-Mac marches on.
“I’m not going to lie to you,” Eric Dettbarn said. “I’m happy we got the technical foul and got the ball. That probably saved the game for us. Yeah, it was definitely a freak ending and maybe someone’s looking out for us.”
Here is the game boxscore and play by play: