BISMARCK – The Bauxite Miners outlasted the Bismarck Lions in a double-overtime thriller on Tuesday night, escaping with a heart-pounding 57-53 road victory.
Sophomore Ben Madison paced the Miners offensively finishing the night with 27 points, nine rebounds and Hunter Holder chipped in 13 points, three rebounds and three assists.
“It was a pretty sloppy game and both teams had chances to win,” Bauxite Coach Mark Smith said. “If they (Bismarck) would have made the majority of their free throws they would have won. If we would have made the majority of our open shots we would have won. Both teams just hung around and never let the other one get very far ahead.”
In a highly-contested affair, neither team could separate themselves from the other. The largest deficit either team faced was five points.
“It was a game that could have easily, easily gone either way,” Smith said.
After two close quarters of play, Bauxite took a slim 22-21 lead into halftime.
It was more close play in the second half as both squads scored nine points in the third quarter. In the fourth quarter, Bismarck outscored Bauxite 10-9 to force overtime. The Miners had an opportunity at the end of regulation to top the Lions, but missed an open shot that would have won the game.
“I kept telling them it’s still our game to win and you just got to execute,” Smith said. “You got to execute, you got to stay focused and finish this.”
Four quarters of play and one overtime was still not enough time to separate these two schools, with both teams continuing to trade punches. At the end of the first overtime period, Bauxite again missed an open shot that would have won the game.
In the second overtime Bauxite was finally able to distance themselves from Bismarck. Up by three points, Madison stole the ball from the Lions and turned it into a layup that sealed a victory for the Miners.
“Games like this are really a good test of a team’s character when it comes down to crunch time,” Smith said. “Hopefully we learn some things we can improve on and hopefully it will carry over.”