Trojan boys end season in Ellsworth hardwood heartbreaker

MINNEAPOLIS – The Beloit Trojans faced NCAA League rival Ellsworth in the semi-finals of their Class 3A Sub-state tournament in Minneapolis on Thursday night. The number three seed Beloit battled back from a first half deficit of as many as ten points, only to see their season come to end in a heartbreaking fashion.

The Trojans split the home-and-home regular season series with Ellsworth this year. The Bearcats defeated Beloit in their second meeting to snap what had been no less than a 34-game winning streak in the series for the Trojans. They had literally and utterly dominated Ellsworth at every possible turn over the past many years.

In fact, it is all but an absolute certainty that there are players on Ellsworth’s roster to start this season who were not yet school age the last time the Bearcats had defeated Beloit on the hardwood. Ellsworth looked to start a streak of their own on Thursday night. They not only picked-up a second straight win over the Trojans. They did It in epic fashion from their own perspective.

The Bearcats 37-35 victory also earned the Bearcats a chance to punch their ticket to the 3A State Tournament in Hutchinson next week.

Ellsworth, the tournament’s number two seed, jumped out to a 13-4 lead in the opening quarter of what was an overall low-scoring affair. They led 15-5 to start the second period, and they held a seven-point lead at halftime, 22-15. Beloit outscored the Bearcats 12-6 in the third quarter to draw within a single point at 28-27 as Ellsworth heading into a fourth quarter lead. The Trojans went on take a 33-28 lead at the midpoint of the final period.

The Bearcats rallied with a 7-2 spurt to tie the game at 35 with 1:42 to play in regulation. Neither team would score for the next 1:41 of game time. Beloit had what looked to be the final possession of the game with 20 seconds to play.

With seven seconds to play. Beloit’s Carson Cox drove the ball from the left wing, and Ellsworth’s Remington Cravens simply made an outstanding individual play. It was likely the biggest play of his basketball career, to this point, when he picked a quick and clean steal from Cox’s pocket. Cravens proceeded to take the ball the length of the floor for a lay-up in just the nick of time.

The clock struck zero at the same moment the ball hit the floor after falling through the basket, and Ellsworth was victorious in by a final score of 37-35. The Bearcats had not only started a winning streak over Beloit of their own after losing at least 34 of the last 35 games to the Trojans. They also ended Beloit’s season while putting themselves in position to advance to the Class 3A State Tournament with a win in tomorrow night’s sub-state championship game versus the number one seed TMP who defeated Southeast of Saline 58-52 in their semifinal game.

The Trojans finish the year with a record of 12-10, and were led in their final outing by Tate Thompson with a career high 18 points. He was the only Beloit player in double figures. Paxton Harris scored 5 points; Vincent Palen 4; Carson Cox and Colin Chandler 3 points each; Ryan Broeckelman 2. 

Ellsworth was paced by Jordan Base with 15, and Cravens’ last second lay-up put him in double figures with 10; Grant Gwinner scored 8; Avery Haxton 4. 

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