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North Woods wins state quarterfinal classic on half-court buzzer beater

Patrick Slack
Posted 3/23/17

Every day toward the end of practice, North Woods will gather near midcourt.

Every day, right before head coach Will Kleppe is about to talk, there is Cade Goggleye, heaving a ball toward the …

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North Woods wins state quarterfinal classic on half-court buzzer beater

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Every day toward the end of practice, North Woods will gather near midcourt.

Every day, right before head coach Will Kleppe is about to talk, there is Cade Goggleye, heaving a ball toward the basket.

"Constantly," Kleppe said.

After Thursday, he gets a lifetime pass.

With less than a second remaining and the score tied, Goggleye threw up a prayer that was answered 50 feet later, banking into the net to give North Woods an unbelivable 54-51 victory over third-seeded Central Minnesota Christian at Williams Arena in Minneapolis.

"It's something you always dream of doing," Goggleye said.

Now, the Grizzlies advance to tomorrow afternoon's Class A semifinals versus second-seeded Goodhue at the Target Center at 2 p.m.

Despite being the lone first-time entrant in the Class A field, North Woods opened the game with poise, using an efficient offense to build a 24-15 lead with six minutes left in the first half.

The Blue Jays wouldn't fade quietly, though, rallying quickly to seize a 26-25 edge a minute before the break.

The Grizzlies would hold for the last possession, knotting the score on a late Goggleye free throw, but it was all Blue Jays once again as the team's returned from the locker room.

An 8-0 run by Central Minnesota Christian left the Grizzlies in a 34-26 hole less than two minutes into the second half.

Then, it was North Woods' turn to respond.

Riding the hot hand of Tate Olson, who scored 14 of his team-high 16 points in the second half, including four threes, North Woods managed to level the score at 42-42 with 5:17 to play.

The Grizzlies would never trail from there, yet couldn't shake the Blue Jays, taking three leads only for CMC to tie the score back up.

After a strong drive to the lane ended with a layup by junior Brendan Parson, the Grizzlies regained a 49-47 advantage.

North Woods came up with a clutch defensive stop, then Olson was fouled, and, following a timeout by CMC, stepped up to the line for a one-and-one opportunity.

"I kept telling myself, 'It's just a free throw, just go up and knock it down,'" Olson said.

He did just that, extending the margin to 51-47 with 44 seconds to play.

CMC would need a lengthy possession, but found a way to get a basket to narrow the spread to 51-49 with 16 seconds to play.

Following a North Woods miss at the free-throw line, CMC had one last chance with the ball.

CMC moved the ball upcourt and called timeout with 6.6 seconds left. North Woods, with a foul to give, quickly fouled on the inbound and called a timeout of its own less than a second later.

When play resumed, CMC found an open player in the post for a quick layup, seemingly to send the game to overtime.

But sophomore Chase Kleppe quickly grabbed the ball and inbounded to Goggleye.

Tightly guarded, Goggleye took a few dribbles and glanced at the distant clock.

When he saw it reach one, he released.

And hit.

And, for the supremely stoic, focused point guard, smiled.

"I've maybe seen three smiles out of him in his life," coach Kleppe said. "He carries himself very stoic, very well.

"I did see him crack a smile when he hit it though."

The Grizzlies couldn't contain their emotions either, dashing to the floor to swarm Goggleye.

The poised, treat it like any other game approach netted a once in a lifetime finish.

Not bad for the first state tournament game in team history.

"We didn't do much different," coach Kleppe said. "We had confidence in the game plan. This team has no quit in them."

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