Ehnert's Career-High Helps No. 6 Muskies Upset No. 2 Marian in NAC Semifinals
Athletics - posted on 2/28/2008
The Lakeland College men's basketball team just isn't ready to end its season yet.
In a stunningly similar fashion as their overtime upset victory on Tuesday at No. 3 seeded Wisconsin Lutheran, the No. 6 seeded Muskies squeaked out another overtime thriller, 76-75, over No. 2 Marian College in the Northern Athletics Conference Tournament semifinals on Thursday night.
The Muskies (16-11 overall) will now move on to the NAC Tournament championship game to face No. 1 Aurora University on Saturday.
Although the Muskies were the team on the road, it was hard to tell given the impressive numbers of Lakeland faithful who followed the team to Fond du Lac.
The crowd support, exciting tournament atmosphere and knowledge that it was now or never must have sparked something in senior forward Danny Ehnert, as he put forth a colossal effort of 22 points and 16 rebounds, a career-high in both, to help send the Muskies to the conference tournament title game.
"This is the first time we have made it to a conference final, and knocking off the No. 2 seed tonight is just unreal," said Ehnert, referring to the fact that the Muskies have gone no further than the conference tournament semifinals during his last three years with the team. "We were pretty confident, and we've been saying that it's our time. We played well as a team, everyone contributed and our bench made awesome plays."
Lakeland trailed through the majority of the game with a 32-28 halftime score, but stayed within striking distance to make for an interesting second half. A lay-up by junior forward Pete Worth tied the game for the first time at 40 points apiece, and back-to-back 3-pointers by sophomore guard Khendal Andrews gave the Muskies their first lead of the night.
Lakeland would remain in the lead by as many as six with just over five minutes to go in regulation, but the Sabres closed the gap once again until they were down by just two, 62-60, with 15 seconds on the clock. A Marian steal and lay-up resulted in the tie, sending the game into the nail-biting extra period.
However, Lakeland's senior authority came up big in overtime just as they did on Tuesday, as Ehnert and guards Aaron Regal and Shane Grube stepped up to finally seal the win.
"When it went to overtime tonight, it didn't even feel like overtime," said Lakeland head coach Kyle Brumett. "It just felt like five more minutes on the clock. I think our seniors did a great job of keeping us together, and Danny was unbelievable tonight. He made plays the whole time he was in."
Although the Muskies won the war on the boards, 38-35, and came out with fewer turnovers, the Sabres were no slouch from the field, shooting 50 percent for the game to the Muskies' 38.8 percent.
"There just isn't that big of a difference in our league between the No. 2 and the No. 9 team," Brumett said. "We're all so close talent-wise, which is why it has come down to overtime in our last two games. Anybody can beat anybody on any given night. We lost to them here earlier this year and last year, but our guys had a lot of confidence going in with the way we won on Tuesday. Overtime losses are what give a coach grey hair, but I'll take those overtime losses we had earlier this year for these two that we won."
Senior guard Kris Saiberlich also caught his share of the limelight, as he followed Ehnert with 14 points, while Worth and Grube also reached double-figures with 13 and 11 points, respectively.
Lakeland will now return to face Aurora just one week after the Spartans defeated the Muskies, 85-73, in both teams' final regular-season game. However, the Muskies will look to use their new-found confidence, senior leadership and experience in tough games in hopes of sending their five seniors on with the ultimate gift.
"We're going to try to figure out a way to compete better with Aurora than we did last time," Brumett said. "We're going to go down there with the idea that we're going to get our seniors through their last game with a win."
Ehnert acknowledges the importance he and his teammates have placed on every game, especially with it being his last chance at a conference title.
"I guess the playoffs have brought something else out in us," Ehnert said. "You just have to learn to keep playing even when you make a mistake. We're coming off two wins so we feel pretty confident going in, but they're a really tough team. We're just going to have to bring our best game and see what happens."
Saturday's championship game tip-off time with Aurora is set for 2 p.m. in Aurora, Ill.
Share This Story Help
Lakeland offers links to several popular social bookmarking services. These links help you share stories with other people or create bookmarks for future reference. The services are free, but they require a personal account. Click for more information on social bookmarking
<< Return to News