Eau Claire Memorial fought back from an early deficit to take its only lead of the game in the final minutes.
But in the intense thriller, Eau Claire North always had Dalton Banks in its back pocket.
The 6-2 junior hit two free throws and a basket to put the Huskies back in front and on to a 62-59 win in the Big Rivers Conference game Friday night at the Eagles Nest.
“This feels insane,” Banks said. “We had lost a couple close ones to Memorial in the last couple years. This time, we were on mission and I’m really proud of the team.”
Besides throwing the conference race into a logjam with four teams tied at the top, it was a special night for Banks, who scored 32 points to to go over the century mark with 1,001 career points.
“Dalton is a special kid,” North coach Todd Marks said. “He scores the points but it’s his leadership that is outstanding. You can’t put a measure on that.”
In the hectic final seconds, Memorial just missed a chance to tie – or win. With North leading 60-59, the Abes Tanner Linduski drove to the basket but banged his shot too hard off the board at the 10-second mark.
North rebounded and Bennett Mayer was fouled, making both shots with eight seconds left. Memorial hurried down the floor. Linduski missed a 3-point try but Altherelle Robbins rebounded, stepped back of the 3-point line and lofted a desperation attempt. It was close, but bounced and rolled off the rim.
“It almost went in,” Memorial coach Chad Brieske said. “The kids battled to the end and almost got a miracle shot.”
The Huskies, Memorial, River Falls and Hudson share the conference lead with two losses each at the halfway mark.
“We don’t look at it any way except ahead to the next game,” Marks said. “We have to move on to the next game and any of the teams have a chance.”
Down 18 late in the first half, Memorial went on a 22-8 run to close it to 34-30 at the intermission.
North was able to cling to slim leads through the second half until Linduski hit a drive-in and followed with two free throws to give the Abes a 57-56 lead 3:31 to play.
Banks put the Huskies back up with two free throws and with 1:32 left, he hit a bucket to make a three-point lead. Robbins pulled Memorial within one at 60-59 with an underhand scoop basket with 59 seconds left.
Banks missed a free throw with 44 seconds to play and that’s when Linduski drove to the basket to miss the drive-in at the 10-second mark.
With North blanketing chief Abe threat Caden Boser, Linduski picked up the slack with an outstanding 26-point effort. And his 10 rebounds matched that of Boser, who, coming off a 32-point game, was limited to just seven field goal attempts and five points.
“I try to keep steady, not get too high or not too low,” Banks said referring to Memorial taking the lead. “I knew we’d find a way. We just had to stick together and get it done.”
North blew out of the blocks for leads of 16-2 and 26-8 with 6:32 to go in the first half. Linduski answered with eight straight points to ignite the Abes who scored the last 12 points of the half and cut the margin to four.
The Abes crept within two after a Linduski 3-pointer but Banks answered with a 3 of his own. Luke Warren then came off the bench to hit back-to-back 3’s that kept North ahead until Memorial finally took its only lead of the game.
Chad Kron hit three 3’s to score nine for North while Ashton Kallstrom came off the bench for and Mayer and Warren each scored six.
Besides his 32 points, Banks led North with 10 rebounds and five assists.
Simon Larson gave Linduski his best support for Memorial with 14 points and Robbins followed with nine.
In the 145-game series, North scored a 43rd win. The two teams split their games the past two years.
NORTH 62, MEMORIAL 59
North — FGM-FGA FTM-FTA TP: Bennett Mayer 2-3 2-2 6, Dalton Banks 10-29 7-9 32, Chad Kron 3-9 0-0 9, Preston Dorn 0-0 1-4 1, Carter Hesselman 0-1 0-0 0, Ashton Kallstrom 3-8 1-2 8, Luke Warren 2-2 0-0 6, Jaret Loe 0-1 0-0 0, Elijah Johnson 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 20-53 11-17 62.
Memorial – Caden Boser 2-7 1-2 5, Tanner Linduski 9-14 5-5 26, Ethan Van Grunsven 1-3 0-0 3, Simon Larson 5-7 4-6 14, Altherelle Robbins 4-7 1-2 9, Connor Stoik 0-2 2-2 2, Landon Van Grunsven 0-0 0-0 0, Mekhi Shaw 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 21-40 13-17 59.
Halftime: North 34-30. 3-Point Shots: North 11-26 (Banks 5-10, Kron 3-8, Warren 2-2, Kallstrom 1-5, Hesselman 0-1), Memorial 4-10 (Linduski 3-5, E. Van Grunsven 1-2, Boser 0-3). Rebounds: North 28 (Banks 10). Memorial 34 (Boser 10, Linduski 10). Assists: North 13 (Banks 5), Memorial 10 (Van Grunsvern 4). Fouls: North 14, Memorial 14. Turnovers: North 6, Memorial 15. Officials: Jared Fern Jeff Fern, Nate Fern. Records: North 8-3, 4-2. Memorial 7-4, 4-2.