Walled Lake Northern shocked one group of Eagles, but another group of Eagles proved too much for them to overcome.
The Knights stunned their Bogie Lake Road brothers, Huron Valley Lakeland, 58-57, on the Eagles’ home floor in a Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) District semi-final on Wednesday, March 9 on a game-winning 3-pointer by Jared Sheena.
However, Northern’s season would come to an end two nights later as the Knights fell to Hartland in overtime, 65-58, in an MHSAA district final on Friday, March 11 at Lakeland.
The Knights (11-10) came in as the defending district champions after a surprise run last season, but they certainly were not sneaking up on anyone this year as Lakeland was ready for a fight.
Northern led 13-12 after the first quarter before Lakeland tied the game at 29 at halftime.
Lakeland then took a 42-41 lead at the end of the third quarter, setting the stage for a frantic fourth.
Ryan Zukowski missed two free throws, both coming in one-and-one situations down the stretch, giving the Knights a shot.
Sheena’s only 3-pointer of the game turned out to be the biggest of his career as it beat the buzzer and gave the Knights a memorable victory over one of their biggest rivals in a state tournament game.
Gage Thorgmorton finished with 20 points, including shooting a perfect 7-for-7 from the free-throw line, while Sheena and Ryan Soulet each had 11 points.
Zukowski finished with a game-high 23 points for Lakeland (11-11) while Chuck Sanders had 15 points.
The Knights were then matched up against Hartland, the same team they defeated to win the district championship last season, in the district final.
However, there would be no celebration this year as Hartland gutted out a 65-58 overtime victory.
Things looked promising for the Knights early in the second half as they had a 39-32 lead in the third quarter before Hartland (12-11) bounced back to take a 41-40 lead at the end of the quarter.
However, Sheena hit two free throws with under a minute left to force overtime with the score knotted at 54.
In the extra session, the Eagles took control by hitting 6-of-8 free throws and forced Northern into early turnovers and taking advantage.
Sheena finished with 23 points on the night while Thorgmorton finished with 4 three-pointers as part of a 17-point night.
Matt Poches had 23 points for Hartland, which played against Orchard Lake St. Mary’s in a regional semi-final at Ann Arbor Pioneer on Monday, March 14 after press time.
Friday marked the final game for Northern seniors Russ Curl, Kevin Piper, Garrett Chandler, Des Walker and Pat Mulligan.
But Sheena is a junior this season and Thorgmorton is a sophomore, so the Knights appear to be a team that will still be a contender in the 2011-12 season.