Feb. 24—Bowman County and Hazen gave the fans what they had hoped for, an intense game that featured a blowout lead followed by a clutch comeback and buzzer beater finish — bringing one team's fan base to their feet, and crushing the hearts of the other.
The buzzer beater wasn't drained by a senior or junior, that honor lay with an underclassmen or more specifically a freshman.
The fifth-seeded Bulldogs were chomping at the bit to sink its teeth into the skin of the fourth-seeded Bison and did so with a massive 20-4 run to end the first quarter.
The entire Trinity gymnasium may have assumed the game Bowman was surely to take home a widespread victory after it took a 21-point lead to start the second quarter. But on the 41st anniversary of arguably the biggest miracle in sport's history with USA defeating the USSR, the Bison began the most memorable miracle comeback of the season by scoring on 42% of its shots taken, compared to the Bulldogs' 39% and outscoring the Bulldogs 14-11, 16-14 and 16-7.
After being down by over 20 points, the Bison officially completed the comeback by tying the game at 48 with 1:40 remaining in the fourth quarter, lifting the spirits of all the players, coaches, and student section while instantly silencing Bowman County's student section.
From that moment on, the air in the wide gym was limited as everyone held their breath each time the ball took flight. Bowman County constantly continued to take a two-point advantage against Hazen, but the Bison would find a way to answer and tie the game.
With 30.4 seconds remaining, the Bison had a chance to complete the miracle by having the ball with a chance to take the lead. The team charged into the paint and put up a heavily contested shot nearly underneath the basket, and watched as the ball bounced off the rim and into the hands of Bulldogs' defenders.
With less than 10 seconds remaining the Bulldogs attempted a 3-pointer to take the lead but saw the same results as the Bison with the ball bouncing off the rim.
The only difference being the rebound found its way into the hands of Bulldog freshman Jaci Fischer with less than five seconds remaining.
With her feet set, the clock down to two seconds remaining and nothing to lose, Fischer put up a beautiful floater that kissed the backboard and into the net just as the final buzzer sounded.
The basket gave Fischer her 14th point of the game, and the Bulldogs the upset victory.
"I wasn't really thinking about anything, I was just ready and I knew it was an important shot and I was focused and I made it," Fischer said following the game.
The Bulldogs swarmed the freshman as the fans erupted in cheers.
"It's amazing, our school hasn't made it here for three years and now that we get this chance, it's amazing," Fischer said.
Bowman County Head Coach Jayden Schoch discussed the closing seconds from his point of view.
"I told the girls 'whatever you do, take the last shot,' and we got it, we got a good look at a 3-pointer, but Jaci Fischer just happened to be at the right place at the right time," Schoch said.
As for Hazen, some players stood as still as a statue following the basket, others had put their arms behind their heads with facial expressions being a mixture of sadness and disbelief. Heartbroken tears began to rain down the cheeks instantly after the final buzzer sounded.
For Head Coach Brent Sorensen and seniors Sydney Mosset and Paige Erhardt, the buzzer beating loss was an emotional blow after achieving one of the most difficult comebacks in all of sports.
"They showed a lot of grit, obviously I wish we could have started a little hotter (in the first quarter) but, I'm very proud of how they finished and fought back," Sorensen said. "Being down 21 at one point and then losing on a buzzer beater, give them all the credit in the world for working their butts off there."
With the upset victory, the Bulldogs will be looking to repeat its success against the top seeded Night Hawks on Tuesday in the semifinals at 5 p.m.
"I just know that our girls are going to battle for all four quarters, I know they are," Schoch said. "Hettinger-Scranton is a great team, they've done an amazing job all season, they got a great coach and two really, really good players ... we're going to come out, we got a plan and hopefully we execute it."
The winner of Tuesday's matchup will advance to the regional championship on Thursday.