Junior Tim Rausch hit two clutch free throws with 19.5 seconds left to give the Polson Pirates a 35-34 victory over the Libby Loggers in the second straight nail-biter of the day at the Northwestern A boys divisional basketball tournament on Friday evening at Glacier High School.
The Pirates advance to the championship game against Columbia Falls Saturday evening at 6 p.m. at Glacier.
Following Rausch’s free throws, Libby still had multiple chances to win the game. Down 35-34, the second-seeded Loggers called a timeout with 14.3 seconds left. After the inbounds play, junior Colton Cannon found himself open on the left wing for a three-pointer. But Cannon’s shot was off the mark. He had made two three-pointers prior to that miss.
Senior Conner Benson grabbed a tough offensive rebound and was quickly fouled. Benson stepped up to the free-throw line for a one-and-one with 3.7 seconds. Benson, the second-leading scorer in the conference at 15.4 points per game, missed the first free throw and Polson snagged the rebound.
Sophomore Kyle Bagnell was fouled and went to the free-throw line with one second remaining. He missed, but it didn’t matter. Time expired and the fourth-seeded Pirates pulled off the upset.
The Loggers were only 5-for-19 from three-point range, including 0-for-4 in the final period. Benson led Libby with a game-high 13 points, while fellow senior Joel Fuller chipped in eight. Libby will play Ronan at 9 a.m. on Saturday morning at Flathead High School in a loser-out game.
Louis Mohr, a sophomore, led the Pirates with nine points and Rausch finished with eight. Rausch went 4-for-4 from the free-throw line.
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