While Turtle Lake-Mercer-McClusky senior guard Adam Peltier walked off the Bishop Ryan High School court Monday and descended the stairway to the visitors' locker room, he bemoaned his team's level of play.
As Peltier expressed his discontent, senior post Kevin Klemisch interrupted him.
"We won," Klemisch said. "That's all that matters."
Turtle Lake-Mercer-McClusky senior Kevin Klemisch shoots over Bishop Ryan junior Jake Magnuson during the Trojans’ 63-61 win at Bishop Ryan on Monday.
Bishop Ryan made runs, took a couple leads in the final quarter and looked poised to pull off an upset. But when Brody Bosch's last-second heave clanked off the iron and Mason Kramer's putback came after the final buzzer sounded, it was the Trojans who were celebrating a 63-61 win.
With a chance to win the game moments earlier, TL-M-M (10-1) committed a defensive sin by fouling Mitch Medalen in the act of shooting a potential game-tying 3-pointer with 5.8 seconds left.
"Miscommunication," Klemisch said. "We thought we could get the block. Just glad it worked out in the end."
It worked out because Medalen - after sinking the first two shots - missed his third free throw. Ryan immediately fouled, Trojans center Nathan Rauhauser made one of two free throws and Bosch's shot missed to preserve the TL-M-M victory.
"It definitely wasn't our best game all-around," Peltier said. "We struggled on defense and our shooting struggled."
Peltier got most of his team-high 19 points from attacking the lane. Though Josh Hanson sank three trifectas, normally proficient outside shooters Peltier and Marcus Tomlinson combined for just one 3.
"We weren't shooting well from the outside," TL-M-M coach Joi Anderson said. "We usually have that outside-inside game but we didn't have the outside tonight so we had to go inside."
In the final stanza, that meant getting the ball to Klemisch. The 6-foot-7 big man was limited to seven points in the game's first 24 minutes. In the final frame, the Trojans made a point to get the ball to their center.
Klemisch scored 11 points in the final quarter and, perhaps more importantly, hit his foul shots. He entered the quarter 3-of-6 from the charity stripe but made 5-of-6 free throws down the stretch.
"That's just the type of free-throw shooter I am," Klemisch said. "I'm really streaky and it's hit or miss."
Peltier joked: "He gets lucky sometimes."
The Lions (5-6) didn't go away easily. When TL-M-M took its biggest lead at 41-35 late in the third, Ryan responded with a Matt Niess foul shot and a Jared Will buzzer-beater to pull within three and gain some momentum entering the final period. Then, in the fourth, the Lions got perimeter buckets from four different players.
Jake Magnuson and Austin Eggl hit 3s following Trojans scores, Bosch gave his team a 51-50 lead with a trey with four minutes, seven seconds left and Medalen's 3 with 19 seconds left pulled Ryan within one and extended the Lions' chances.
"We need that (widespread production)," Lions coach Scott Medalen said. "We have to trust each other. We have people that can make outside shots. It doesn't have to be one or two guys that carry us. ... I think I saw a little bit more of that trust develop tonight."
Bosch finished with a game-high 21 points, with Mitch Medalen (10 points) also in double figures. Ryan plays at 7:15 p.m. tonight at Kenmare.
Turtle Lake-Mercer-McClusky plays at Harvey-Wells County on Saturday.