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Hurley loses regional semi in double OT

HURLEY — Like two heavyweight boxers slugging it out in the middle of the ring in a championship fight, Birchwood finally emerged with a 63-61 double overtime victory over Hurley in a WIAA Division 5 regional semifinal game on Friday night.

Birchwood will now advance to the championship game to play at top-seed Northwood.

"It's unfortunate someone had to lose tonight," Birchwood coach Blane Senn said. "Hurley played their butts off. They got behind, but they kept working hard and got back in it.

"We went to a full-court press and man defense at the half and it made the difference. It got us turnovers and they didn't get in good sets in their half-court offense. Our Matthew Marcinske is a helluva ballplayer. He's our leading scorer averaging 25 points a game and he had 31 tonight. He's also our leader and captain and he's only a junior. He hit some big shots tonight."

Hurley coach Mike Swartz took the loss hard (as any coach would), but he also looked at how his team turned their season around and he was as proud of them as any team he has coached.

"We had our opportunities, but we missed a few free throws," Swartz said. "We still had our chances to win at the end. Number 13 (Marcinske) had some big 3's. We had a fabulous first half. In the second half, they pressured us. We stayed even with them, but we just didn't make our free throws. We just have to be better at crunch time.

"This is the most enjoyable group I've had to work with. We struggled and had a 2-6 record. They could have cashed it in. But they are a very unselfish group and they bought into our style, our philosophy of playing the game in the 40's and grinding out wins. This was a great group of seniors with Carson Thewis, Andy Hamlin, Gavin Ransanici and Preston Gardner. I'm really going to miss them. They represented the school and their team very well and I'm proud of them."

Those seniors came out of the locker room ready to play and after Hamlin drove to the basket, hung in the air and made a shot from eight feet to tie the game at 8-8, Hurley went on a tear out-scoring the Bobcats 21-10 the rest of the half and took a 29-18 lead after two quarters.

Birchwood changed strategies in the second half and went to a full-court, man-to-man press. At first, the press seemed to have little affect, but the Bobcats began to whittle away at Hurley's lead. When Marcinske buried a 3 at the 5:58 mark, Birchwood had narrowed the Hurley lead to five points at 37-32.

Hamlin took an inbounds pass coming down the lane and made a 3 the old-fashioned play with a score and a foul shot (43-35), but Marcinske answered with a deep 3 to make it 43-38 with 3:14 left in the game.

Hurley's Carson Thewis drove across the lane and knocked down a shot to give Hurley what looked to be a comfortable lead at 49-43 with 1:02 remaining.

But Marcinske pulled the trigger on another 3-ball from the right wing and the lead shrunk to 49-46 with 55.7 left.

Hurley lost the ball throwing it in bounds and the Bobcats scored two quick baskets to tie the game at 50-50 and send it into overtime.

When Birchwood's Trent Stanley splashed a top-of-the-key 3 early in overtime, the Bobcats grabbed 53-50 and 55-52 advantage with 1:26 left in the overtime.

But Thewis drove the lane and drilled a pull-up jumper and then he electrified the Hurley crowd by draining a triple from the left wing with 13.0 seconds to send the game into double-overtime at 57-57.

Hurley took the lead in overtime (1:45 left) when Gavin Ransanici sank a left-handed baby hook and Hurley grabbed the lead at 61-60.

But that Marcinske guy answered back one more time with a baseline drive scoring with 1:11 remaining and giving Birchwood the lead at 62-61.

There was a wild sequence down the stretch where Hurley missed two shots and Birchwood made two steals and but missed two point blank shots.

At the end, Hurley had a pass intercepted with 11.6 seconds remaining but still got off two more shots, but they mis-fired.

Swartz gave his seniors one final send-off.

"I just had so much fun with this group this year," he said. "I wanted to keep it going."

Hurley won 12 of its last 15 games.

Marcinske was the game's top gun with 31 points.

Ransanici topped Hurley's scoring with 15 points, Thewis poured in 14 points and Hamlin reached double figures with 12.

Birchwood — Trent Stanley 10, Trey Johnson 3, Matthew Marcinske 31, Logan Sandana 2, Ryan Kupper 5, Preston Herricks 12. FT's: 15-22, Fouls: 14, Fouled out: Kupper, 3-pointers: Kupper 1, Johmson 1, Herricks 1, Stanley 1.

Hurley — Carson Thewis 14, Corbin Taylor 4, Tony Cummings 4, Braxton Sbraggia 7, Gavin Ransanici 15, Andy Hamlin 12. FT's: 18-31, Fouls: 16, Fouled out: none, 3-pointers: Thewis 1, Taylor 1.

Birchwood 18 50 57 63

Hurley 29 50 57 61

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