Chris Duke put his early-season struggles behind him, leading ninth-ranked Des Lacs-Burlington to its biggest win of the season.
The 6-foot-5 senior guard claims to have shot poorly from the free-throw line this season, but went 4-of-4 in the final 1 minute, 22 seconds on Saturday. That performance secured a thrilling 57-56 win over No. 2-ranked Four Winds-Minnewaukan during the Hoopster Classic at the Minot State University Dome.
"Right now, I'm just not shooting well (at the line) this season, but I came around today," said Duke, who also tallied a team-high 20 points. "I think I'm at like 70 percent, but that's not my potential. I can do better than that."
Chris Aarhus / Special to The Minot Daily News
Des Lacs-Burlington's Chris Duke drives past Four Winds-Minnewaukan's Trayvon McKay during the Hoopster Classic on Saturday at the Minot State Dome.
Trailing 53-51 with 2:40 to go, first-team all-stater Tanner Holte hit a jumper at the shot-clock buzzer to tie the game.
DL-B (5-1) held the previously unbeaten Indians (7-1) scoreless, and Duke went to the line on the other end and drilled both free ones. But Hadley Smith came down and sank a 3-pointer from the left corner with just under 50 seconds to go to put the Indians ahead 56-55.
Fourteen seconds later, it was Duke again.
"It felt great; I knew I was gonna knock 'em down as soon as I got up there," Duke said.
He sank both, and Smith's 3-point try from the left corner in the waning seconds missed to preserve the upset.
"Chris is a tremendous free-throw shooter," DL-B coach Doug Wagner said. "He hasn't been shooting that well in games, but part of that is that he hasn't gotten to the line enough.
"He's a clutch player. We were glad to have him at the line."
DL-B led after every break, but didn't have much breathing room.
The spread was never more than four points in the first half. However, a pair of Duke 3-pointers helped the Lakers to a 12-4 run to start the second half that provided some distance. Not surprisingly, defense was also a key factor, as the Lakers limited the Indians' penetration.
"The kids got locked and loaded," Wagner said. "(Friday night) in Parshall, we won by 30 but they had a lot of straight-line penetrations to the basket. We talked about that in a little get-together (Saturday) morning. I thought the kids responded well."
Holte and Mitch Medalen both tallied 10 points for the Lakers, who finished 11-of-15 from the charity stripe.
FW-M junior Trayvon McKay led a fierce rally in the fourth quarter, scoring eight consecutive points to take a 49-48 lead. The two teams went back and forth, and Jonathon Yankton's bucket put the Indians in front 53-51, leading to Holte's jumper.
McKay dumped in 20 for FW-M, while Smith and Yankton had 13 and 10, respectively.