A close game between the Hortonville Polar Bears and Antigo Red Robins went down to the wire as the Polar Bears earned a 50-49 win in a WIAA Division 2 Regional semi-final on Friday, March 6.
Hortonville led 17-13 after one quarter, but Antigo put up 16 points in the second quarter while limiting Hortonville to only eight points in the frame. The Red Robins held a 29-25 lead at halftime.
Antigo outscored Hortonville 13-12 in the third quarter to take a 42-37 lead into the final quarter of play.
Hortonville came out firing in the fourth quarter, roaring into a 43-42 lead just 32 seconds into the final frame. From there, the teams traded baskets and the score remained close until the final minute.
Clinging to a 50-48 lead with less than 30 seconds remaining, the Polar Bear defense deflected a pass and players from both teams scrambled for the loose ball. A Red Robin player came up with the ball, but was falling out of bounds. On his way down, he spiked the ball down hard on a Hortonville defender lying out of bounds at his feet. This allowed Antigo to maintain possession, as the ball touched a Hortonville player who was out of bounds.
Not pleased with seeing the ball thrown hard at his defenseless teammate, a Polar Bear player confronted the Antigo player who threw the ball. Officials then called a technical foul against Hortonville, sending Antigo senior guard Cameron Noskowiak to the free throw line for two shots.
Noskowiak missed the first free throw but made the second, cutting the score to 50-49 with 17.3 seconds remaining.
Hortonville’s defense stayed strong as Antigo tried to get a good shot off, but to no avail. Hortonville knocked the ball out of bounds with 4.2 seconds remaining.
On the ensuing inbounds play, Antigo got a shot off from near the free throw line, but the ball clanged off the rim as time expired to preserve a 50-49 win for the Polar Bears.
With the win, the Polar Bears advance to a WIAA Division 2 Regional Championship matchup against the top-seeded Shawano Hawks at 7 p.m. Saturday, March 7. That game will be played in Shawano.