HIBBING -- Pine River fire trucks and police cars weren't needed for an escort Tuesday night as the Pine River-Backus Tigers were denied a trip to the final four at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.
PR-B fans witnessed two completely different halves of basketball in quarterfinal action of the state Class AA boys' tournament at the Hibbing Memorial Arena.
Unfortunately, the bad half came last as the Tigers were clipped by the Section 5AA champion Glencoe-Silver Lake Panthers 66-61.
In the first half, PR-B played nearly perfect, like it did in the Section 7AA semifinals against International Falls. With six lead changes and two ties the Tigers were finally able to get a 16-4 run in the second quarter. With the run the Tigers built an 11-point lead at one time.
"On defense we were able to get a couple of steals and hit a lot of good shots," said Tigers forward Micah Johnson. "Once the momentum started going for us we really started playing well and stealing the ball more."
Justin Kelley, who finished with 30 points, scored 22 of them in the first half. Corey Anderson nailed three, three-pointers and Johnson added seven points for a 41-35 halftime lead.
"We thought we broke out pretty good and we were kind of worried about their energy and how they went after the ball," said Panthers coach Don Tangen. "We thought we had a nice little lead but we really played some bad basketball for a few minutes.
"They got back into the game and managed to get a nice lead themselves. We played pretty good the last minute of the half and got it to six."
It was a 41-30 lead but the Panthers came clawing back, scoring the last five points. G-SL's big man, Nic Adrian, scored 10 of his team-high 20 points in the half to keep the Panthers close.
In the third quarter the Panthers retained the momentum. They tied the game 43-43 with a three-pointer by Adam Maass, who nailed three long bombs in the game.
But the Tigers wouldn't let up. Micah Johnson scored the Tigers' next six points to give PR-B a 49-45 lead. But back came the Panthers, who scored the last seven points to take a three-point lead going into the final frame.
Kelley, who shot 8 of 16 in the first half, shot only twice in the third quarter. Both of those attempts were three-pointers but neither fell. The Tigers, who shot 8 of 15 from behind the arc in the first half, shot just 2 for 11 in the second. They scored just eight points in the third quarter.
"I don't know if it was their defense or if it was just that we weren't hitting our shots as well," said Tigers coach Bob Nelson. "Maybe they turned it up a little bit and got tougher. We just couldn't get anything to fall."
Those troubles would continue as the Panthers scored the first six points of the fourth quarter to build a 58-49 lead.
"It seemed like we got tired a little bit," said Johnson. "We started missing some shots that we don't usually miss. We shot poorly and I think it was because we were getting a little bit tired.
"You lose a lot of confidence when you start missing shots that you usually make."
Kelley scored two points and Anderson scored a basket to bring PR-B within striking distance.
With only two fouls on the board, and the Tigers forced to foul, to much time drained from the clock and G-SL held on for the win.
"We got some guys to get better help that we didn't do in the first half," said Tangen. "We did a little bit better job of rebounding. I thought (Nic) Adrian really went after the boards and we got some other guys going after the boards."
Only four Tigers scored while G-SL enjoyed a balanced attack. Eight Panthers found the scoring column. As a team the Panthers shot 24 of 39 for 62 percent from the field. The Tigers, meanwhile, shot 22 of 55 from the floor for 40 percent.
Pine River-Backus 18 23 8 12 -- 61
Glencoe-Silver Lake 19 16 17 14 -- 66
PINE RIVER-BACKUS (61)
Justin Kelley 30, Corey Anderson 11, Nick Keefe 7, Micah Johnson 13. Team totals: FG 22-55 (40 percent), FT 7-8 (88 percent). Overall -- 25-5.
GLENCOE-SILVER LAKE (66)
Nic Adrian 20, Adam Maass 9, Ben Henderson 14, Mike Schuette 3, Taylor Mackenthun 5, Matt Johnson 8, John Carrigan 2, Jesse Johnson 5. Team totals: FG 24-39 (62 percent), FT 10-17 (59 percent). Overall -- 24-3. Next game: Hayfield vs. Glencoe-Silver Lake 9 p.m. Friday at Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul.
3-point baskets -- PR-B 10 (Kelley 5, Anderson 3, Keefe 1, Johnson 1), G-SL (Maass 3, M. Johnson 1, Mackenthun 1, J. Johnson 1). Total fouls -- PR-B 17, G-SL 11. Fouled out -- PR-B Johnson.
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