SEE YA AT STATE! Hawks survive in OT, headed to state for first time since 1991

WEBSTER CITY – South Hamilton’s Big Three – guards Matt Hislop, Trevor Ullestad and Collin Hill – gladly accepted a fourth member last night in front of a raucous crowd inside the Webster City High School gymnasium.

Ross Enderson, welcome to the club. You’ve earned it.

Inserted into the starting lineup after coming off the bench in the district final, Enderson waited until his team needed him the most to make his presence felt, and his nine fourth-quarter points were instrumental in South Hamilton shaking free from Fort Dodge St. Edmond, 58-53 in overtime, in the Class 2A Substate 2 final.

The Hawks (21-3) – winners of 14 straight games – advanced to the state tournament for the first time since 1991 and denied the Gaels (17-7) of their eighth trip in the last 14 years. They’ll face sixth-ranked Cascade (21-3) in a quarterfinal round game at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines on Monday, March 10 at 8:15 p.m.

It wasn’t always pretty, but the end result was enough to cause an eruption in the stands and on the hardwood.

“We’ve worked so hard for this that it’s awesome that it finally paid off,” Hislop, a senior who scored seven points and dished out four assists, said after a long round of hugs evaporated near center court.

South Hamilton trailed 41-36 with 4:50 remaining in the fourth quarter when Enderson got hot. He buried a 3-pointer from the wing to get the Hawks back into contention, and in the final 1:30 he buried a long jumper and a 3 from the corner to put the Hawks up by a point, 44-43.

“Lately in practice I’ve been hitting the shots, so I tried to look for my opening and I got it,” Enderson said.

Hislop knew where the hot hand was and he exploited it.

“Clutch,” he said when asked about Enderson. “It’s anybody’s night at any given time and in this game it was anybody’s minute because everybody had cold streaks and everybody had hot streaks. He hit some big shots, so we kept going back to him. He was huge.”

South Hamilton was clinging to a 45-43 advantage in the waning seconds, but a missed free throw gave the Gaels an opening and that was all Robby Burke needed, as he hit a turnaround shot from short range with 2 ticks left to send the game into overtime.

Burke, a 6-foot-6 center, was a nightmare all night. He scored a game-high 20 points, but none in OT.

“He’s a beast,” Hislop said of Burke. “We have great leadership and that’s what it came down to (in OT). We could have folded, but we didn’t.”

St. Edmond took an early lead in OT, but Hill quickly answered with a turnaround jumper from the baseline, and Hislop and Ullestad made four straight free throws to extend the Hawks’ cushion to 51-47.

Landon Peed answered for St. Edmond with a 3 to cut it to 51-50 with 1:01 to go, but Ullestad wasn’t about to let it slip away again. He got free at the top of the key and drilled his fourth 3 to get the lead back to four with 45 seconds remaining.

Final nail, meet coffin.

“If I get open I’m going to shoot it and that’s what happened,” Ullestad said.

Ullestad led the Hawks with 18 points and Hill showed his versatility again with 15 points, four blocks and three assists.

South Hamilton hit 10 3s, which accounted for more than half of its points.

Andrew Wintermote added seven points and six boards. He checked Burke throughout the extra period.

“You’ve got to give Drew a lot of credit because he played a really good four-minute stretch during overtime,” South Hamilton head coach B.J. Terrones said.

South Hamilton led 24-20 at intermission before St. Edmond went on a 12-0 spurt over a six-minute stretch of the third quarter to build a lead. Hill broke the drought with back-to-back 3s to pull the Hawks within two, 34-32, at the end of the period.

Burke scored five consecutive points midway through the fourth to give the Gaels the cushion, but while St. Edmond swarmed Hill, Hislop and Ullestad late, Enderson was there to rip the nets.

Landon Peed added 15 points for St. Edmond and Konrad Laufersweiler pitched in nine before fouling out. Laufersweiler poured in 30 points in the Gaels’ 57-53 regular season victory over South Hamilton back in late December.