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Overtime Odyssey: Chruszch, Cougars put out Wildfire in overtime

When the Heart River boys basketball team went down 16-8 to Mott-Regent after the opening quarter, Cougar senior Caleb Chruszch triggered the comeback in the third quarter. When the Wildfire came back and the game went into overtime, Chruszch led...

Heart River senior Caleb Chruszch throws up a jump shot against Mott-Regent on Friday, Jan. 5 from Belfield. (Shelby Reardon / The Dickinson Press)
Heart River senior Caleb Chruszch throws up a jump shot against Mott-Regent on Friday, Jan. 5 from Belfield. (Shelby Reardon / The Dickinson Press)

When the Heart River boys basketball team went down 16-8 to Mott-Regent after the opening quarter, Cougar senior Caleb Chruszch triggered the comeback in the third quarter. When the Wildfire came back and the game went into overtime, Chruszch led the Cougars to a 54-50 victory on Friday, Jan. 5 at Belfield High School.

The 5-foot-8 guard scored all of his 24 points in the second half.

"At halftime we challenged him," Heart River head coach Greg Pruitt said. "In the first half they kept the ball out of his hands which startled our offense."

Chruszch more than made up for it in the final half and overtime period.

He kicked off the second half by scoring six straight points to tie the game at 22. Just minutes later, the gym erupted when he drained a deep three to go up 27-24.

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The Wildfire raged again, tying the game at 44 and sending the matchup to overtime. Chruszch netted four points and went 4-for-6 from the charity stripe to seal the deal.

"The first half was rough but we put it together at halftime," Chruszch said. "It was just effort, coming out wanting to play and not backing down."

Mott-Regent's big three of seniors Hunter Crist, Tanner Zentner and junior Cody Perkins led the way for the Wildfire, with Perkins scoring 18 points, including five three-pointers. Zentner added 16 while Crist netted 10. However, all three faced foul trouble in the second half, with Zentner fouling out in the closing minutes.

Mott-Regent head coach Nate Zachmann said he didn't mind taking the loss tonight, as he knows who wins in the regional tournament in March is more important.

"Everything is fixable," Zachmann said of his team's mistakes. "We'll likely matchup with them in March, so we'll learn from this."

The Wildfire started strong and established an early advantage, forcing Heart River to play from behind. They led the Cougars 22-14 at the half.

Mott-Regent stumbled in the third frame, scoring just six points to Heart River's 21.

With four minutes left, the Cougars led 42-37, but a combination of work from Zentner and Perkins gave the Wildfire a 44-42 lead with just over a minute remaining.

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Just as he had been doing all night, Chruszch stepped up. He scored a basket with 41.8 seconds left while drawing a foul. He missed his free throw which could have won the Cougars the game.

He made his final two free throws in overtime to win it.

"It was intense," Chruszch said. "We'd been looking forward to it all week. We needed another win in the region."

Heart River 54, Mott-Regent 50

MR 16 4 6 18 6

HR 8 6 21 11 10

MR: Cody Perkins 18, Tanner Zentner 16, Hunter Crist 10, Hunter Koepplin 2, Caleb Candrian 2, Aaron Roth 2.

HR: Caleb Chruszch 24, Jayden Krivoruchka 15, Andy Hodell 4, Trace Jacobson 3, Jett Mattson 2, Logan McMahen 2, Cauy Shypkoski 2, Jesse Canode 2.

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3-pointers: MR 9 (Perkins 5), HR 2 (Chruszch, Krivoruchka 1). Free throws: MR 3-8, HR 6-22. Total fouls: MR 20, 16. Fouled out: MR Zentner, Crist. Technical fouls: HR team, 1Q 10:00. Records: MR 4-3 (Region 7 1-1), HR 4-4 (Region 7 2-1).

Related Topics: HEART RIVER COUGARS
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