Falmata Tula hit the floor battling for a rebound, drawing a foul that gave the Warriors a vital lead.
Tula than came down court on defense and shutdown the unstoppable Marcus White, sealing a gritty 84-83 win in overtime for the Waldorf men’s basketball team Friday night in North Star Athletic Association action heard on KIOW and kiow.com.
“They played really hard, they played together and they played with a lot of energy and effort,” Jenkins said of his team, which completed a season sweep of the Blue Hawks. “That’s a really good team, and I think everybody who was here that watched the game would say the same.”
Marcus White led the Blue Hawks efforts, scoring 21 of his game-high 32 points in the second half, time and again thwarting the Warriors efforts to pull away.
“Marcus White’s a handful, he’s probably the front-runner for the league MVP,” Jenkins said, adding that Waldorf’s own senior star, Kaden Verdin, will likely be an MVP contender, as well.
“…I think he was an All-American last year, and he’s just a tough guard because he can step out and knock down some shots, and obviously he’s so strong and powerful inside.”
On top 38-37 at the break, the Warriors used back-to-back Eric English buckets and a Brian Smith layup to forge a 53-47 edge with 12 minutes left in regulation.
Looking to make a decisive charge, the Warriors (11-14 overall, 6-7 NSAA) found the only thing stopping them was the individual efforts of White, who used a 3-point play to answer one Waldorf threat.
A Smith triple put the Warriors in front by six again, as Waldorf four times grabbed leads of a half-dozen, only to see White answer each and every time to keep the Blue Hawks (12-11, 8-6) close.
That gave Dickinson State hope, and despite the efforts of English to ice the game at the free-throw line with pair of freebies in the final 30 seconds for a 74-71 Waldorf lead, the Blue Hawks cashed in on that hope as Austin Payne hit a game-tying 3, then weathered a last shot by the Warriors.
Into overtime both teams went, and White’s personal seven-point surge turned a 78-76 Warrior lead into an 83-80 deficit with a minute and a half left in the extra session.
Having battled hard all game, the Warriors refused to let victory slip away and clapped down on the Blue Hawks defensively, then chipped away on offense.
An English free throw got Waldorf closer, then Jordan Portee grabbed a vital offensive board that led to a game-tying layup by Brian Smith with 18 seconds remaining.
Then it was time for defense – two defensive stands – as White missed a 3 and Tula hit the floor on the ensuing scramble for the rebound, grabbing the ball just before being fouled.
Tula hit his second of two free-throws with just over a second left, for an 84-83 Waldorf lead, then the Warriors hung on one more time.
Again White found the ball in his hands, this time in the left corner as he tried to hoist up a desperation 3 that Tula blocked, securing the gritty win for the Warriors.
Tula was just one of the Warriors who enjoyed a big night as he scored 19 points and grabbed nine rebounds.
Smith added 21 points and six rebounds, Verdin – honored before the game for eclipsing the 1,000-point mark in his career – finished with 20 points and 12 rebounds, and English added 12 points and six boards for Waldorf, which riding the high of an overtime victory is back in action Saturday hosting Presentation at 5 p.m.