By Brady Ambrose
Junior guard Austin Bauer hit back-to-back 3 pointers in overtime to propel the Caledonia boys to a wild, 79-75 win over P-E-M Jan. 2 at CHS. The win was the Warriors eighth in a row since losing to #2 ranked Rushford-Peterson Dec. 3 and also marked the second time this season that Caledonia has knocked off a state ranked team. Entering the game the Bulldogs (8-3) were ranked #3 in the the state in class AA.
Bauer’s dramatics capped a furious comeback by Caledonia, who trailed most of the game until Josh Nord’s 3-pointer with 3:47 left in regulation knotted the score at 66 all. “We’re a small lineup for awhile tonight. West got in foul trouble, Kyle got in foul trouble but people really stepped up tonight,” coach Josh Diersen said after the game. “Josh Nord had a huge game for us tonight.”
The Bulldogs came out quickly and jumped out to an 8-2 lead two minutes into the game. At the 16:46 mark Caledonia’s Kyle Sorenson was whistled for his second foul and the 6’7” junior was forced to take a seat on the bench. P-E-M’s Nick Shanks, who led all scorers in the game with 30 points, hit a 3-pointer and Alex Slawson hit another to give the Bulldogs a 20-10 lead with 11:52 to play in the first half. But the Warriors responded when Colton Lampert and Owen King hit treys of their own to close the gap to 22-20. Another basket by Lampert tied the game at 24 all. Caledonia then took the lead at 27-26 when Lampert hit another 3-pointer, and the teams traded baskets with Lampert’s bucket at the 4:23 mark again tied the game at 36 all. The Bulldogs then went on a 7-1 run to close out the first half and led 43-37 at the break.
The Bulldogs then opened up with a 16-10 run to start the second half and took a 59-47 lead with a little over nine minutes left. After a three-pointer from Nord got the Warriors within four points at 51-47, P-E-M scored the next eight points and appeared to be in control of the game. But Caledonia answered with a 12-3 run and closed the gap to 62-59 when Lampert stole the ball and scored on a layup with five minutes left in the game.
After a Bulldog timeout, the Warriors tied the game on Nord’s 3-pointer but the Bulldogs regained the lead at 64-62 before Nord’s one free throw to get the Warriors within a point at 64-63 with 3:17 to play. Shanks then hit a short jumper with 2:44 left to give the Bulldogs a 66-63 lead, but Nord hit another trey with 93 seconds left to tie the game again, this time at 66-66. “The team was excited, the gym was excited, this is the best ticket in town,” Diersen said.
Caledonia then had a great shot at winning the game in regulation when Bauer had a good look on a short runner from the left side, but the shot rattled out. P-E-M’s Alex McGuire then missed a wide-open shot with 5.6 seconds left from six feet away, and the Warriors grabbed the rebound and called a timeout. After the break Bauer missed a jumper to send the game to overtime with the score still 66-66.
Caledonia and Bauer then took over. With 2:45 left, Bauer hit the first three to give the Warriors a 69-66 lead, but Tanner Hofschulte answered for the Bulldogs. Thirty seconds later Bauer drilled another trey to push the lead to 72-68, but the Bulldogs got within a basket at 72-70 when Slawson made one free throw with 1:02 left. Nord then sank two free throws when he was fouled with 49 seconds to play to push the lead back to 74-70, and Nord then stole a P-E-M pass and was fouled. Nord hit two more free throws to give the Warriors a 76-70 lead with 38.8 seconds to play and Bauer added two more free throws for a 78-70 lead with 28.5 seconds left. Nord would add one more free throw and the Bulldogs got one free throw and a 3-pointer from Hunter Rau at the buzzer for the 79-74 final as Caledonia pulled off the wild win.
Nord led the Warriors with 20 points, and Lampert and Bauer added 14 each with Kyle Sorenson adding 11 and West Spier 10. “Austin had a huge game in overtime,” Diersen said. “Two clutch 3’s, he’s quiet the whole night and then he hits those back-to-back. I am so proud of everyone; they stayed together and got after it.”
Caledonia will play St. Charles at home Jan. 10 after traveling to Wabasha Jan. 7. “Everyone who came tonight got their money’s worth with two good teams tonight,” Diersen said.
Caledonia also hammered Spring Grove 90-57 on Dec. 27 when the Lions were ranked in the top 10 in 1A.
CALEDONIA 79, P-E-M 74 (OT)
P-E-M 37 29 8— 74
Caledonia 34 32 13— 79
P-E-M: Nick Shanks 30, Hunter Rau 4, Alex McGuire 2, Tanner Hofschulte 20, Logan Sexton 13, Alex Slawson 7.
CALEDONIA: Seth Twite 1, Josh Nord 20, Owen King 9, Colton Lampert 14, Kyle Sorenson 11, Austin Bauer 14, West Spier 10.