Trenton senior Lane Huck felt like he had let his team down after picking up his third foul with two minutes, five seconds remaining in the first quarter.
The 6-foot-2 forward - averaging 13.5 points and 8.2 rebounds per game - could only watch helplessly from the bench as the Tigers fought on without one of their leaders.
But Huck more than made amends for his early foul trouble, scoring 12 of his 16 points in the second half to rally Trenton to a 54-52 victory over Cavalier in the first round of the state tournament on Thursday at the Minot State University Dome.
Trenton senior Michael Rademacher, right, drives to the hoop against Cavalier junior Ryan Chrest during the first round of the Class B state tournament Thursday at the Minot State University Dome.
"I was a little jittery in the beginning," Huck said. "This tournament is so huge. We've been looking forward to this forever. I kind of let my team down in the first half and I owed it to them."
Back-to-back 3-pointers by senior guard Trenten Hove gave the Tigers a 26-21 lead before Brock Robbins took control of the Cavalier offense.
Robbins scored nine of the games next 10 points to complete a 10-0 run, giving Cavalier a five-point lead early in the third quarter. The 6-3 sophomore guard added two more baskets in the third to build a 39-30 lead.
"We really had a good talk in the huddle," Trenton coach Bob Turcotte said. " Senior leadership goes a long way. These boys worked long and hard to get to this point and they all looked at each other and you could see it in their eyes. They weren't going down."
The Tigers scratched and clawed their way back to within one following an 8-0 run with six points coming from Huck. Hove's fourth 3 tied the game midway through the final quarter before Huck's final basket of the game gave Trenton a lead it wouldn't relinquish with three minutes remaining in regulation. Hove finished with 16 points.
"Once we got a feel for (Cavalier), we got things going and we worked things out," Huck said. "Our coaches, give a lot of credit to them, they helped us out at halftime and came up with a scheme for us to score."
The Tigers scored 20 points in the final quarter after totaling just eight in the third. Trenton entered the tournament averaging roughly 72 points per game, but found itself playing at Cavalier's pace.
"We weren't trying to play to their tempo," Turcotte said. "They handled the press well. ... I was pretty happy with our defensive performance. There was a big size difference out there. It's not even close. We struggled on the glass, but we battled and that's what you got to do."
The Tigers have two players on their roster surpassing six feet while the Tornadoes start four players 6-3 or taller. Trenton overcame a 46-18 rebounding margin - 22-4 on the offensive glass - by shooting nearly 50 percent from the field.
Cavalier had one last chance to win the game, but Jarret Johnson's last-second shot from behind the arc was off the mark, leaving the Tornadoes scratching their heads.
"Somebody's got to lose those games and we came up a little bit short tonight," Cavalier coach Bryce Laxdal said. "These teams are all evenly matched and somebody has to win, somebody has to lose and we came up on the short end tonight."
Trenton advances to the semifinals and plays Four Winds-Minnewaukan today at 8:15 p.m. Cavalier drops into the consolation bracket and plays Rugby at 2:45 p.m.