POLL QUESTION: If you're Harbor Beach, and you could only win ONE game, which game would you rather win? Last night's game or Monday's rematch with the Redskins in the district opener?
HARBOR BEACH — Winning consecutive league championships isn’t easy.
Just ask Harbor Beach.
With the Pirates having a chance to go back-to-back in the Greater Thumb East, Sandusky answered their plea here Thursday night with an emphatic ‘not so fast.’ Redskin Jordan Coats drained a go-ahead three-pointer with less than 10 seconds to play, lifting his team to a stunning 38-36 victory over the Pirates in the regular season finale.
With Harbor Beach’s loss, Marlette, an easy winner over Mayville on Thursday, claims the outright GTE championship at 8-2. Meanwhile, the Pirates finish 7-3 in the league, and are now wondering how two straight GTE losses to end the season will impact them as they head toward next week’s district tournament.
Ironically, the Pirates host Sandusky again Monday in the district opener.
“It’s like getting your heart ripped out,” said a dejected Harbor Beach coach Ron Wruble. “As poorly as we played, having that happen at the end — it’s like getting your heart ripped out.”
Coats’ game-winning heroics spoiled a valiant effort from the Pirates, who trailed by as many as 10 points late in the third quarter.
Harbor Beach took its first lead of the second half at 36-35 on a steal, layup and three-point play from Aaron Ginther with 1:32 left.
After a Sandusky turnover, the Pirates had a chance to cushion their lead, but missed two free throws with 26.7 seconds remaining, setting up the Redskins’ game-winner.
Coats, among the area leaders in three-point shooting, took a pass near the top of the key and buried the go-ahead hoop with 8.2 seconds to play.
After a timeout, Harbor Beach had one last chance, but didn’t even get a shot off as time expired.
“I knew we had our hands full tonight, and I am sure our kids were not taking them lightly,” said Wruble, whose team owned a 17-point win over the fourth-place Redskins earlier this season. “They are a good team.
“We were playing defense fairly well, but we just couldn’t get anything going on the offensive end for much of the game. And it cost us.”
Coats led the Redskins with 15 points while Chase Baysdell added 13.
Harbor Beach had Andrew Siemen with 12 points while Eli Kraft notched eight.
Now, the focus shifts to Monday when the Redskins (13-7 overall, 6-4 GTE) make a return trip to the Harbor Beach (14-5) gym to take on the Pirates in the Class C district quarterfinals.
“It doesn’t matter who we have Monday, my biggest concern is the emotional toll our kids are going to feel,” Wruble said. “This one was tough. We’re going to find out how resilient we are. We have a few days to heal up, I guess.
“I always tell them that athletic competition doesn’t necessarily build character, it shows it. We will see how they respond come Monday.”
Sandusky led 8-6 after one quarter and 21-16 at the break. The Redskins led by as many as 10 points with 2:07 left in the third period, settling for a 30-22 edge heading to the final eight minutes.
|Sandusky’s Chase Baysdell drives around Harbor Beach’s Scott Grekowicz in the second half.|
|Harbor Beach’s Sean Sorenson goes up for a shot while Sandusky’s Jordan Coats (15) defends.|