IRONWOOD - How did that shot not go in?
Mesabi Range's Bacarius Dinkins, who scored a game-high 22 points, managed to get to the rim after his team inbounded it with 2.2 seconds left. His layup to win sure looked good, but it slowly rolled over instead of through.
Instead, the Gogebic Community College Samsons survived with a 69-68 victory Wednesday over a good Mesabi team at the Lindquist Center.
Home rims? God's a Samsons' fan? Nobody could answer the question: How did that not go in?
"I thought for sure it was going in," GCC's Jordan LaPlant said. "I was nervous. He had me sealed and he's such a big guy, I couldn't do anything about it."
Mesabi (5-2) coach Tom Stackpool said the team ran something it was used to after a kick on the inbounds moved the location of the final inbounds while he didn't have any timeouts left.
"We got it to the big fella and it just rimmed out," he said. "Who knows? U.P. gods working against us.
"In that situation, you either want to get it to a wide-open shooter or you want to get it inside somehow. We got it to our big fella inside. I don't know how it missed. But it did. It rolled out. Couldn't ask for a better look."
GCC coach Dennis Mackey didn't really know the answer either.
"He made the play, the good move and they got it to where they wanted," Mackey said. "We didn't want it there, but it was a case of them being a little more physical than we were at that point."
"There was jostling in there and that's probably why it didn't go in," Mackey said. "He had the move. He had the baseline. That guy's probably going to make that 90 percent of the time or 99 percent of the time. That was one time it went out. I've been on both sides of those. In the past, I've had guys miss short layups and it's tough. I'm sure it's tough for them. But at the same time, it was a great game and we escaped with the victory."
The other wild card was GCC had a foul to give in that situation.
"In that situation the ref doesn't want to make a call," Mackey said. "There's a lot of contact both in him establishing his position and two, after he got the ball, there was contact on the ground. To be honest with you, we would have liked to have fouled before he got the ball, but he's so strong. He just went up and probably took us with him. But fortunately for us, the ball rimmed out."
Mesabi fought back from a 63-51 deficit with about seven minutes left to take a 68-66 lead with 1:02 remaining on a basket by Kenneth Dalley Jr.
About 20 seconds later, LaPlant, who scored a team-high 21 points, sank a 3-pointer from the wing near the GCC bench. The game-winner put Gogebic up 69-68.
"I just saw an opening and I took it," LaPlant said. "Anybody's a shooter on our team. If you see an open shot, you take it."
Mackey said it was a good shot.
"It's a good shot because it's in rhythm," he said. "Sometimes we take bad 3s, but that was a good 3. It's in rhythm. It's in the offense. It's one of our set plays. A guy doesn't come off that screen, if you don't come out and guard us, that's our shot. We're a 3-point shooting team. Even if we're not making them, it's our strength. Jordan has had some good days and some bad days shooting the ball this year, but he stayed with it. He looked good tonight. And he hit a big shot at the end."
The Samsons forced a jump ball and had the possession arrow with 30.3 seconds left, but GCC's LaDell Hickman missed the front end of a 1-and-1 with 13.1 seconds to go.
Gogebic used two fouls to give and a pass was kicked out of bounds all after Mesabi called a timeout with 8.1 to go. Gogebic had another foul to give, but Dinkins powered to the rim off the inbounds with 2.2 seconds to go and certainly looked like he won the game. But it missed.
The Samsons gave up 14 points to start the game before finally getting a basket. Mesabi then scored the next four points to take an 18-2. Gogebic, though, went to halftime with the lead 35-31.
"We came out with a lot of intensity and I think our quickness hurt them to start," Stackpool said. "They adjusted to it and their 3-point shots started getting them back in the game. (Bryce) Bilski shot the ball really well under some situations. They got back into it and they jumped us in the second half. We slowly worked ourselves back into it.
"It was just a good college basketball game. It was a really good game, one of those that comes down to the end. Two good teams battling, fighting and it comes down to the last shot, which if ours goes in, we feel really good going home. It rims out and now we don't feel so good."
LaPlant grabbed 10 rebounds to go with his 21 points.
"I thought Jordan LaPlant was outstanding tonight, not just on the offensive end but defensively," Mackey said. "Twenty-one points, 10 rebounds, that's a big night for us, big night for him in particular."
LaPlant has always been a good rebounder, including his days at Ewen-Trout Creek.
"But tonight, he was extra special," Mackey said. "We're asking him to play defense on the inside against guys such as Dinkins, their big, 6-5, 6-6 kid in there. And he just goes in there and battles."
Bilski finished with 18 points, including four 3s. Hickman had 14.
Collin Miller, Pat Rafter, Tarius Hagood and Marcus Bain did a good job off the bench in the first half, Mackey said.
"He created some plays in the open court and just keeps pressure on their defense," Mackey said of Bain, a Watersmeet product. "He's such a powerful dribbler and he drove into the lane and got two free throws. Came down next time and made a penetration kick. Those are plays he's growing into. Moving from high school ball to college ball has been a big adjustment for him and he's the first to admit it. He's gaining confidence every day in practice and the games."
GCC (11-2) goes to Hibbing on Dec. 18. GCC meets Mesabi again the weekend of Dec. 20-21, in Minnesota. Gogebic isn't home again until a Feb. 1 meeting with UW-Marinette.
"We don't have a home game for quite a while, so the people who were here tonight sure got entertained," Mackey said. "I'm glad they came out on a bitter night as it is (10 below). It's nice to win at home. You want to protect your home court."
It's been a good start to the season for the Samsons after losing so many players from last year's region championship team.
"We're small, but right off the bat, we had good chemistry as a team," LaPlant said. "We're fast. Everybody can shoot. We play good defense."
Mesabi - Kenneth Delley Jr. 8, Jamal Branco 16, Cade Stackpool 6, Devin Brown 8, Jordan Villebrun 4, Ross Schminski 2, Bacarius Dinkins 22, Juan Love 2. FTs: 8-11. Fouls: 16. Fouled out: None. 3-pointers: Stackpool 2, Brown 2, Delly 1, Branco 1.
Gogebic - LaDell Hickman 14, Alex Dietrich 7, Marcus Bain 1, Jordan LaPlant 21, Collin Miller 6, Bryce Bilski 18, Gordy Kohegyi 2. FTs: 7-9. Fouls: 15. Fouled out: None. 3-pointers: Bilski 4, Hickman 3, LaPlant 2, Dietrich 1.
Half: GCC 35-31.