2,500 fans packed seat-to-seat in Morris to watch state-ranked Battle Lake (#4) vs. Hillcrest Academy (#9) in another down to the wire game Friday night.
Hillcrest put-on a ball handling clinic, committing a jaw-dropping 3 turnovers throughout the entire game. Inside looks to Jake Isaac opened the game and enabled Hillcrest's permitter shooters looks throughout the night. After tip-off the Comets sought to exploit a front-court mismatch on Isaac as Battle Lake's Petric Van Erp worked to contain Hillcrest's senior leader. As Isaac worked the inside, permitter shooters set their feet. Micah Jones connected from beyond the arc as both teams cut their teeth in the scoring columns, providing Hillcrest a 23-19 lead with 4:30 before intermission. Isaac answered with a put-back on the low block, his kiss off the glass gave the Comets a 25-21 lead minutes later. Isaac entered the locker room with 9 points.
The Battlers walked out of halftime with a 28-27 lead knowing there was more work to do. "There is never a save lead against that team." commented Battle Lake coach Dan Peterka. "That is one of the best 3-point shooting teams we have ever faced." Looking over their shoulder, Battle Lake took charge with a 13-3 run ten minutes before the final buzzer. After building a 46-36 lead, the Battlers watched Isaac soar. Isaac went to work putting in 13 points in the following minutes to cut Battle Lake's lead to 52-50.
With the focus shifting to Isaac, Hillcrest's permitter shooters spotted-up. Junior Chris Tungseth knocked-down a 3-pointer with 1:06 remaining in the game, giving Hillcrest a 53-52 lead. The Battlers set their feet and didn't quit. Following a missed shot, Van Erp hit a layup and subsequent free-throw to build a 57-53 lead. Tungseth followed with two foul shots of his own to pull Hillcrest within two points. With 15 seconds in the game Battle Lake dribbled down the court despite Hillcrest's defensive front, sealing the win with a Van Erp put back in the final seconds.
Battle Lake heads to the State tournament with a 125-15 record over the past five seasons. The Comets closed their season on a hot night of shooting from Jake Isaac, who had a game high 28 points. The backcourt provided support with Tungseth's 11 points, Senior Evan Malmstrom's 3, and Senior Micah Jones' 5 points. The final score was 59-55.