It took all 32 minutes Monday night in Wilton, but the Mid-Prairie boys advanced through the first round of the class 2A district playoffs knocking off West Liberty 63-61. The Comets got out to an early 7-3 lead behind baskets from Kyle Miller and Brett Becker, the Comets two leading scorers. The Golden Hawks answered with an 8-0 run taking a 15-10 lead but at the end of the first West Liberty led 21-20. The Comets continued to fire away in the shoot out behind three first half threes from Becker, West Liberty built a 34-25 lead midway through the second. The Golden Hawks chipped away and trailed 40-34 headed the locker room.
Out of the break Mid-Prairie went to work on the glass and put together a 13-4 run to take a 47-44 lead midway through the third. The game continued to be tight down the stretch with the Golden Hawks trailing 50-47 going to the final frame. Mid-Prairie answered with a run to take a 51-50 lead and got big baskets down the stretch from Christian Johnson, Wyatt Cady and Nick Stimson. With the Golden Hawks clinging to a 60-56 lead and under 30 seconds remaining West Liberty’s Carl Guardado was fouled on a put back attempt and completed the three point play to cut the lead to one. Stimson was fouled on the ensuing possession and made one of two free throws setting up the exciting finish.
As Mid-Prairie led 61-59, Becker got the ball with 17 seconds to play and raced the length of the floor to lay it in and tie the game. The Golden Hawks had one time out remaining and chose not to use it. After the game Head Coach Chris Kern talked about the situation.
“What we wanted to do, was to come down and get the best possible shot that we could, and we have enough weapons, and at this time of the year these kids know who to look for,” Kern said. “Nick has the green light, Dayton has the green light, CJ, Spencer, Nolan, all of them, so we said the best look, take it.”
As Stimson flew up the floor with the ball, he let a three point shot go from the volleyball line with just under four seconds remaining. The shot went in and out but fell into the hands of Mid-Prairie point guard Dayton Hall and his tip in at the buzzer sent the Hawks into the second round. Hall talks about his shot and final sequence.
“I thought Nick had the shot, I thought it went in honestly, and it just barely rimmed out, and I was just in the right place at the right time,” Hall said. “I thought it was long, I thought I missed it.”
Hall led Mid-Prairie with 20 points, Nick Stimson had 11 and Christian Johnson had 10. With the win Mid-Prairie is now 11-11 and will play in the second round Thursday night in Iowa City against Regina.