By: Jared Hines
With Fridley new to Section 5AAA and the Magic and Tigers having very few common opponents, it was difficult to tell what Bridge Tusler and Co. were going to see when they arrived at St. Michael-Albertville High School for the semifinal bout against the Tigers.
What the fans saw early was a fast-paced game, full of back and forth baskets, multiple blocks, and aggressive post play. Jacob Keller and Brady Thompson started the game with 3-point baskets for the Magic with Nick McNaughton adding a basket to put the Magic up 8-4 early. An Austin Wetter basket, A Wyatt Sawatzke free throw, another Wetter basket, and two more Sawatzke free throws tied the game at 15 points apiece before the Tigers went on a 17-4 run to take a 32-19 lead. Wetter hit a basket and then another shot from behind the perimeter and Gus Hangsleben added back-to-back baskets of his own to bring the game back within eight. Sawatzke hit his fourth free throw late in the first half to put the Magic down 36-29 at halftime.
Out of the half, Brady Thompson started the comeback with a basket and the free throw on the Tigers foul. Thompson scored another basket on the team’s next possession and Kolles scored the next four points for Monticello. After a Wetter free throw, Thompson drove to the basket on Monticello’s next offensive possession and dazzled the crowd with a spin and lay-up finish that put the Magic back within seven. Thompson scored again to cut the lead to five and Wetter was fouled, converting both free throws to cut the lead to 48-45. Kolles made back-to-back baskets again but the Tigers kept matching, maintaining the lead as the clock ticked under nine minutes remaining.
Sawatzke’s first field goal came with 8:10 left to play and it was a big one. It was followed by a Wetter basket, another Wetter 3-point shot and a steal and score by Thompson. Wetter scored the next six points for the Magic but picked up his fourth foul on the defensive end, forcing him to the bench with 4;30 left to play. He stayed there for just thirty seconds before Tusler subbed him back into the game, the Magic trailing by two. On his first possession back, Wetter drove and passed the ball out to the perimeter where Sawatzke drove. Hangsleben was there for the rebound where he was fouled. He made both free throws, tying the game at 66 with 3:37 left to play. After two free throws by Christian Crockett of Fridley, Hansleben made another lay-up to keep the game knotted up.
With 1:45 left to play, Wetter’s 25th point of the game brought the game back within two. The Magic defense forced a turnover and Wetter was fouled as he drove to the basket with 1:13 remaining. He made both free throws to tie the game at 72 as Monticello took their third timeout of the game. The game stayed knotted up at 72 points apiece until the last basket of the game. There, Fridley drew up an out of bounds play and ran it to perfection, scoring at the buzzer to end the game and the Magic’s season.
Monticello finishes the 2019-20 season with a 15-13 record and will graduate six seniors this spring. Jacob Keller, Lucas Johnson, Eli Kuhn, Austin Wetter, Nick McNaughton and Riley Erb gave huge contributions to the Magic program and will be greatly missed next season.
Austin Wetter finished his career with 1225 career points, the sixth most all-time in Magic boys basketball history.