Mike Stetson, Sports Information Director
FOREST CITY – The Warriors have had their share of near-misses but Saturday they were determined not to let the win slip away.
Helping by their press, the Waldorf men’s basketball team erased a late seven-point deficit, forcing their North Star Athletic Association contest into not just one overtime, but double overtime, where the Warriors prevailed, 108-98, over the visiting Presentation Saints at the Hanson Fieldhouse.
“That was a heck of a game,” Waldorf coach Nigel Jenkins said. “Hats off to Presentation, they had no quit in them.
“I’m really proud of this team,” Jenkins added. “We didn’t give up and showed a lot of growth. We have to keep working to get better; it’s not going to get any easier next week.”
After seeing late leads slip away in their first two NSAA games, this time it was Waldorf’s turn to make a late charge, down 77-70 after an Issac Essien layup with less than 2 minutes left in regulation that put the Saints in control.
The Warriors (2-9 overall, 1-2 NSAA) started chipping away with a pair of Lorenzo Smith free throws, then after allowing just a solo free throw to the Saints, Smith added a layup, getting Waldorf within striking distance down 78-74 in the final minute.
Then Waldorf slapped on a press that led to an Aaron Sullivan steal and two more Warrior free-throws, adding to the comeback momentum.
On their next possession, the Saints (3-13, 0-3) managed to escape the Warriors’ pressure and cashed in with two free throws, but Waldorf answered with a Quincy Minor Jr. layup, then again slapped on the press.
This time Minor Jr. came up with the steal with 22 seconds remaining, giving Waldorf a chance to tie or go for the win.
The Warriors went for the tie as Minor Jr. drove to the basket, but his shot bounced hard off the backboard. Fortunately, teammate Tristan Furgeson corralled the offensive rebound and tossed in the game-tying deuce, forcing overtime.
The first extra session see-sawed early, but once again the Warriors found themselves playing catchup, down 93-89 with a minute and a half left after an Ian Kelly bucket.
Waldorf answered with two more Smith free throws, then after an offensive foul by the Saints put the ball back into the Warriors hands, Kesean Warren tied it 93-93 with a layup.
After a defensive stand by the Warriors, the game went to another overtime where Waldorf finally took control.
After trading buckets early once again, the deciding moment came when Chet Helming drove and drew a foul that was hotly contested by the Saints.
Helming’s basket on the play counted, and while the Warriors missed a pair of the ensuing three free throws – which were aided by a technical – the momentum of the game had changed with Waldorf in front 100-96.
Dwight Felton tossed in the lone two points for Presentation the rest of the way, as the Warriors made sure to ice the win once in front as Warren tossed in a deuce and Minor Jr. hit 6-of-6 free throws down the stretch.
Minor Jr. finished with a career-high 42 points in the win while adding in five rebounds for Waldorf, which got 23 points, six rebounds and three assists from Smith, 12 points and 10 boards from Furgeson, and 18 points and three assists from Warren in the win.
With league win No. 1 under their belt, Waldorf next plays at Valley City State on Friday and at Dickinson State on Saturday. The Warriors game scheduled for Tuesday against Yellowstone Christian has been postponed. No make-up date has been set yet.
Kelly led the way for the Saints with 27 points, while Felton scored 19, Essien had 18 points, Jackson Becker added 12, Nick Moore scored 10, and Qaiyoom Olanlege had eight points and eight rebounds.