It was fitting that the day the XFL returned, an absolute throw down took place between Hinckley-Finlayson and Pine City.
There's something to be said about an old rivalry that fills up the gym halfway through the JV game. The fans were rocking, the band was blaring, and both teams were more than ready to go. Two minutes into the game, it was apparent that there was no love lost between the I-35 rivals separated by 20 minutes.
In one of the most bizarre things I've seen at any level of basketball, Dragons' head coach Kyle Allen contested a questionable call for over a minute. Things escalated when the Jags' coach entered the mix, and the two coaches let the official know their plights for almost five minutes before the mayhem continued.
Pine City landed the first punches behind the 3-point shooting of Clay Logan, Jake Rademacher, and Nick Hansmann. Thanks to the Jaguars' physical play to end the half, they found themselves at the free-throw line for what seemed like the last 5 minutes, with a sizable foul disparity in favor of the home team. When halftime finally hit H-F took a 43-36 lead into the locker room.
The second half featured the hot hand of Clay Logan, who finished with 21 points and absolutely scorched the Jags' defense from beyond the arc. The Dragons battled back to take the lead in the closing minutes of what was easily the game of the year until these two squads meet again on March 2nd in the season finale.
The final two minutes became foul fest 2.0, with each team hacking each other to pieces straight to the double bonus. In the end, the charity strip would both doom and keep Pine City alive. Missed free-throws down the stretch hurt the Dragons more than any missed calls could have, but were still given one last shot to win it.
Hinckley-Finlayson's Trevor Johnson went to the line up 67-66 with 3 seconds to play and swished the first attempt. The second missed and bounced high in the air, glanced off Travis Visser's hands, flew out of bounds, and ended the game. An odd end to a well-played, scrappy, and brutal game between two rivals.
Who's up for round two in March?
Other Games on Thursday Night:
Braham 74 Onamia 33
East Central 79 Ogilvie 33
Albany 59 Mora 43
Cambridge-Isanti vs Chisago Lakes
North Branch at Saint Francis
Rush City at Isle
Mora/Milaca 4 Cambridge-Isanti 2
Chisago Lakes 61 Cambridge-Isanti 37
Pine City vs Hinckley-Finlayson
Braham at Onamia
North Branch vs Saint Francis
East Central at Ogilvie
Rush City at Isle
Mora vs St. Cloud Cathedral