By Brennan Stebbins (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
WEBB CITY, Mo. – When it was all over, Golden City coach Sean Crane wanted just two minutes back.
Two minutes and seven seconds, to be exact.
That’s how long it took the Lakeland boys to pull away for good en route to an 82-56 win over Golden City in a Class 1 sectional on Tuesday night at Webb City High School.
Crane’s Golden City Eagles trailed by only five points at halftime despite 15 first-half turnovers, but a disastrous start to the third quarter sealed their fate.
Lakeland sophomore Rafe Kalberloh opened the third with a field goal, then the Vikings’ full-court pressure forced a turnover under the basket. Senior Landon Dull scored. The press came up with another steal on the ensuing inbound play, and Dull scored again.
Suddenly it was a double-digit game.
Golden City junior Arlo Stump responded with a basket, but Lakeland senior Garrett Wirsig made a three pointer, Dull added a free throw and Kalberloh scored again.
With 5:53 left in the third, the Vikings led 45-30.
“If we can probably play those two minutes of the third quarter over to start the third, I don’t know if we’ll win but we’d have a chance,” Crane said.
“We just turned the ball over too much,” he said. “Their pressure got to us. Our foul trouble the first half kind of hurt us too. We had to battle a little bit. Just turned the ball over too much, got too far behind and couldn’t ever quite get back. They’re good, Lakeland’s good.”
For Lakeland, the win seals a return to the Class 1 quarterfinals, where the Vikings suffered an 87-66 loss to Walnut Grove last season. Now the Vikings, 27-2, will face St. Elizabeth at 6 p.m. Saturday in Bolivar.
“We had good energy I felt like all night,” Lakeland coach Adam Collins said. “The third quarter we came out and did a better job defensively getting pressure on the ball. Early on that led to three real quick baskets there.
“It just kind of exploded from there,” he said. “Garrett Wirsig getting that three in the third quarter. He shot the ball extremely well. We had an answer every time they hit a bucket in the third. I just felt like we stepped up our game defensively that quarter.”
Wirsig added two more three pointers in the third. Free throws by Dull made it a 20-point game, and a basket by senior Ryan Taylor put the Vikings ahead 58-35 with three minutes left in the third. The lead grew to 24 following a free throw by junior Jace Uchtman.
The Vikings scored 28 points in the quarter.
Lakeland opened up a nine-point lead in the first quarter before Golden City came roaring back to take a 17-16 lead early in the second. Stump scored the first 15 points for the Eagles and then sophomore Chain Parrill put them ahead.
Golden City led 21-19 and 22-21 before a three pointer by Wirsig put Lakeland ahead for good. It was an eight-point game in the final minute of the half before Golden City junior Talon Besendorfer connected on a three pointer to make it 33-28.
Stump finished with a game-high 30 points and was a perfect 8-for-8 at the free throw line in the second half.
Sophomore Lane Dunlap added 15 points for the Eagles, who were playing in the sectional round for the first time since 2004. Golden City’s 19-10 record is the first winning mark for the school since 2006.
Lakeland was led in scoring by Kulberloh’s 20 points. Taylor added 18, Dull scored 17 and Wirsig scored 15.