The Lame Deer Morning Stars escaped with a 56-54 quarterfinal win over the Jefferson Panthers to set up a semifinal showdown with the Three Forks Wolves.
The Stars looked good early on, as Journey Emerson, Jaxon McCormick, and Kendall Russell each scored from downtown to make it an 17-4 game with 2:54 left in the first.
Lame Deer led 19-9 after, as they would be outscored 16-4 over a span of six minutes that cut Jefferson’s deficit to one point, 20-21 with 5:13 left until the half. Lame Deer answered by going to their high scoring senior guard, Emerson, and he scored 8 of their last 10 points of the quarter to give them a five-point advantage at the break, 31-26.
Jefferson opened the second half on an 8-0 run, as they gained their first lead of the game on two free throws with 4:27 left in the third. Lame Deer did not hit a field goal in the third as two of their starters picked up their 4th foul each causing them to sit for most of the period.
Lame Deer was outscoring 15-7 in the period, as all seven points game from the free throw line. Jefferson increased their lead to five points early in the fourth before Emerson found his range with two deep three pointers, giving the Stars a one-point advantage, 44-43.
Jefferson regained the lead and increased it to four only to have Emerson tie the game with a basket and two free throws.
Russell was a beast on the boards as he secured an offensive rebound and put the ball back up, scored and was fouled giving the Stars a 51-50 led with 2:19 left in the game.
The Panthers tied it up again, but Emerson was fouled from behind the arc and hit all three free throws to put the Stars up three, 55-52.
Jefferson cut it to one, but the Stars could not capitalize from the free throw line to extend their lead. Jefferson had a chance to take the lead or tie but missed the front end of a one-and-one with 4 seconds left.
Emerson secured the rebound and was fouled, sending him to the line for 2 from the charity stripe. He connected on the first free throw with 0.4 seconds remaining and missed the second and the Panthers had no time to get a shot off.
Emerson led the Stars with 29 points, 14 of those in the final frame. Russell added 9 points, while Moses Sanders chipped in with 8 points.