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Prep boys basketball: North Woods wins on half-court heave (with video)

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North Woods sophomore Cade Goggleye sinks a shot from near the half-court line in Thursday's Class A quarterfinals. (screenshot from video by Curt Hogg, West Central Tribune)2 / 2

MINNEAPOLIS — With a half-court heave that shocked Williams Arena, North Woods’ Cade Goggleye inserted his name into boys basketball state tournament lore Thursday evening.

The unassuming sophomore sidled up alongside the likes of Blake Hoffarber and Sam Dubois when he banked in a half-court prayer at the buzzer to punctuate a 54-51 win over favored Central Minnesota Christian in the Class A quarterfinals.

Welcome to history, Cade.

“I don’t know how to describe that one,” Goggleye said matter of factly during the Grizzlies’ postgame news conference. “It’s something you always dream of doing when you’re young.”

When it comes to 50-foot state-tournament game-winners, dreaming and doing are two distinctly different things.

While Goggleye was at a loss for words, his teammates were happy to recount the movie-like conclusion.

“I was just behind half court watching him go up the sideline and I looked at it and I’m like, ‘Man, that has a chance,’ ” said junior Tate Olson, who scored 16 points. “It’s the craziest thing I’ve ever seen.”

Said senior George Bibeau, who added 10 points: “I was on the free-throw line when he let it go, so I watched it leave his hands. It had the distance, I was just hoping it’d go in.”

Here’s how it happened: North Woods was leading 51-49 when the Bluejays, from under their own basket, inbounded to Austin Marcus, whose layup went through with 4.3 seconds remaining. Grizzlies sophomore Chase Kleppe immediately got the ball in Goggleye’s hands, and he raced up the right side. Doing so, he glanced at the clock propped above the North Woods basket, which showed one second. From about four feet behind the half-court line, he leapt off his left foot and let fly.

The ball ricocheted off the backboard, and in. Goggleye lay on his back, pumping both fists — while he could, that is. It wasn’t long before he was beneath a pile of crazed Grizzlies.

“I thought it was off at first, but it just banked,” said Goggleye, who ended with 12 points, seven assists and four steals.

This is a kid who shows his youthfulness at North Woods practices by always needing to fire one more shot. Doesn’t matter if Grizzlies coach Will Kleppe is about to address the team or not. Just one more shot. Even if it’s from, say, halfcourt. He practices those often.

“A lot of times he’ll turn around right before I start talking and let one go, and he does make a lot of them,” Will Kleppe said. “As frustrating as it is sometimes — it distracts the whole team away from what I’m doing — he does practice it.”

The coach, like so many who couldn’t quite comprehend what they had just witnessed, first looked to the officials after Goggleye’s shot, just to make sure it counted. It did, there was no doubt about it.

That unseeded and tournament-newbie North Woods (30-1) would be in a position to reach today’s semifinals seemed precarious immediately after halftime. Third-seeded Central Minnesota Christian (26-4) seized control of a tie game by reeling off a rapid 8-0 run. The Grizzlies’ first points of the second half didn’t arrive until 5:25 had elapsed. But they regained the poise they showed early and chipped away.

Olson keyed the charge by scoring 14 points after the break, when he was 4-of-9 from the 3-point line. He buried back-to-back 3s to forge a 42-42 tie, and Chase Kleppe gave North Woods its first lead of the second half, 44-42, with a nice up-and-under.

After the Bluejays’ Matthew Van Eps responded to an Olson 3 by drilling one of his own to make it 47-47, North Woods junior Brendan Parson slipped through the defense for a layup on the left side, and Olson knocked down a pair of free throws for a four-point Grizzlies lead.

That set the stage for Goggleye, an opportunity he capitalized on just like Hoffarber, whose impossible buzzer-beater from his butt helped Hopkins claim a state title in 2005, and Dubois, who threw in an off-balance and one-handed 3 to lift Champlin Park in Wednesday’s Class AAAA quarterfinals.

“He’s the guy we wanted in that situation taking that shot,” Will Kleppe said of Goggleye.

The Bluejays, at state for the third consecutive year, were stunned. Who could blame them?

“You get to the locker room after the game and all the kids are looking at you to say something,” Central Minnesota Christian coach Ted Taatjes said. “What do you tell them?”

Taatjes was asked about the percentages of Goggleye making that shot again.

“It doesn’t matter,” the coach replied. “He just has to make one.”

The Grizzlies meet Goodhue in today’s semifinals at 2 p.m. at Target Center.

North Woods 26-28—54

Central MN Christian 26-25—51

North Woods — Cade Goggleye 12, Brendan Parson 14, Tate Olson 16, Chase Kleppe 2, George Bibeau 10. Totals 17 9-16 54.

3-point goals — Goggleye 3, Parson 4, Olson 4.

Central Minnesota Christian — Matthew Van Eps 17, Ethan Brouwer 16, Tanner Stoel 7, Austin Marcus 7, Jaxon Schwitters 2, Aaron Zwart 2. Totals 19 7-8 51.

3-point goals — Van Eps 3, Brouwer 2, Stoel.

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