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Carney-Nadeau holds off late Bessemer rally in Negaunee for MHSAA Division 4 boys basketball regional championship

The Carney-Nadeau boys basketball team celebrates with its MHSAA Division 4 regional championship trophy after defeating Bessemer on Thursday at Lakeview Memorial Gymnasium in Negaunee. (Escanaba Daily Press photo by Todd Rose)

NEGAUNEE — Carney-Nadeau coach Paul Polfus gave a sigh of relief shortly after the Division 4 regional basketball final here Thursday night.

C-N held an 11-point lead early in the fourth quarter, then hung on for a 60-57 basketball triumph over the Bessemer Speedboys at Lakeview Memorial Gymnasium.

The victory enabled the Wolves (13-8) to earn their first regional title in nine years and meet Rudyard (17-2) in a state quarterfinal contest set for 7 p.m. Tuesday in Escanaba.

The Speedboys also finished their season 13-8.

“That was a pretty exciting game, that’s for sure,” Polfus said. “We had a lot of trouble against their press. I felt we could have attacked it more. We made some big baskets at the right time.”

Senior Beau Koffman gave the Wolves a 51-41 cushion on a buzzer-beating 17-foot jump shot at the end of the third quarter. But Bessemer senior Lane Kortemeier opened the scoring in the fourth on a 17-foot set shot.

Junior Peyton Imhoff then gave the Wolves their largest lead at 54-43 with 7:16 left, but the Speedboys responded with six unanswered points, trimming their deficit to 54-49 on a free throw by Kortemeier with 4:36 remaining.

C-N led 59-51 following a pair of gifters by junior Jerry Lee LaFord with three minutes left. Neither team scored again until the final 28.5 seconds, when junior Jack Nyquist drained a jumper from the left corner to bring Bessemer within 59-54.

Kortemeier split a pair of free throws to bring the Speedboys within 59-55 with 9.2 seconds left, but Koffman secured the decision by splitting a pair of gifters with 5.6 seconds to go.

The Speedboys, who hit just 3 of 8 free throws in the fourth quarter, started in a zone defense.

“We went to a man-to-man, and they destroyed that with their 3s,” Bessemer coach Richard Matrella said. “Their best player, No. 5 (Koffman), really stepped up and hit some big shots, although we also gave him some open shots and they made us pay.

“The free throw line and a couple missed layups hurt us. We had five steals and missed three layups. When you’re behind the 8-ball and have those kinds of opportunities, you have to take advantage of those.”

Koffman finished with 21 points. Imhoff added 15 and LaFord had 10 for the Wolves, who committed 11 of their 12 turnovers in the second half.

Jack Matrella scored 16 points and Kortemeier had 15 for the Speedboys, who had 13 miscues.

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