White Bear Lake trailed until the final 21 seconds but pulled out a 68-65 win over Mahtomedi, led by freshman Jack Janicki and junior Will Forsythe, at home Saturday evening.
“The guys really battled back,” said coach Keith Lockwood after the Bears (5-6) rallied from a 10-point deficit late in the game. “Jack got hot, and we stepped up our defensive pressure.”
The last two baskets came from Forsythe, with :21 left for their first lead, and with :05 left. Forsythe struck for 18 points in a breakout game for the 6-8 junior who was averaging 4.3 with a previous high of seven.
“Will has been struggling, so it was great to see him have a big game like that,” Lockwood said.
Janicki pumped in 23 points, 18 of them in the second half. Brice Peters chipped in 10 points and Kanye Raheem nine.
Brody Fox led Mahtomedi (6-5) with 23 points. Cal Greene tallied 14 and Cole Chapman 12. The Zephyrs were 8-for-9 on free shots while the Bears were just 5-for-13.
Janicki, a fleet, left-handed 6-2 guard, jump-started the rally from a 10-point deficit by sinking two straight long 3-pointers, then snagging an errant mid-court inbounds pass by the Zephyrs and dashing for a layup.
With the Bears down 65-64 and the clock winding under 25 seconds, Janicki tried for the lead with another toss from several feet outside the arc. This one missed, but Forsythe snagged the long rebound in the lane, pivoted and laid in the go-ahead shot.
Mahtomedi had two unfortunate turnovers in the time remaining — one for inadvertently stepping across the over-and-back line after snagging a tipped pass, the other when Greene dribbled on the baseline after rebounding a missed free throw by Alec Garza.
Garza missed two freebies there, but, after the lucky turnover, made up for it with a perfect inbounds pass to Forsythe under the hoop. Forsythe was fouled while making the shot. He missed the free throw, giving Mahtomedi a chance to tie, but Greene’s long shot at the horn fell short.
The Bears always seem to find a way against Mahtomedi despite facing talented Zephyr teams. Lockwood noted that the Bears have lost to their next-door neighbors just twice in his 15 years.