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With seconds left in Wednesday’s game between Eden Prairie and Cretin-Derham Hall, the Eagles’ shot at winning in regulation was in the hands of sophomore guard Drake Dobbs. While most teams might fret having a young player take the final shot, it was no problem for the Eagles.
“When the ball is in Drake’s hand, something good can happen,” said Eden Prairie coach David Flom. “With them not being there in the lane, he was able to make it happen.”
With two seconds left, Dobbs snuck a shot in while driving down the lane to give the Eagles the lead. That last-second shot proved to be the difference as Eden Prairie knocked off Cretin-Derham Hall 65-63, ending the Raiders’ 21-game winning streak.
Coming into Wednesday’s game, Eden Prairie (19-7, 4-4) was looking to end its regular season on a high note after a strong start to the season. The Eagles won their 12 of their first 13 games and even spent a week ranked No. 1 in Class 4A by Minnesota Basketball News.
But in February, Eden Prairie stumbled. The No. 14-4A Eagles dropped five games in February, including a three-game losing streak to open the month.
“We really got after it these past few weeks,” Dobbs said. “We focused on getting better on the defensive end.”
The Eagles’ work on defense showed early. Eden Prairie held No. 1-4A Cretin-Derham Hall to 26 first-half points. The Raiders struggled to get their top two scorers into an offensive rhythm as senior forwards Daniel Oturu and Sy Chatman finished with six and nine points in the first half, respectively. Oturu particularly struggled as he went into the break with three fouls.
“We just wanted to stay in the paint and keep them out of it,” Dobbs said. “We didn’t want Oturu or Chatman to get any good looks.”
The defensive effort by Eagles sophomore forward Austin Andrews helped keep Oturu to just 15 points total. Andrews defended Oturu for the majority of the game while picking up 14 points on the offensive end.
“Austin fought in this one,” Flom said. “We give up a lot of athleticism against him, but we did a good job keeping them out of the paint.”
But after building a 16-point lead in the second half, the Raiders came storming back with a run of their own. Fueled by an 11-0 run, Cretin-Derham Hall got the game close late and even led by two points at one point.
“It’s one of those games where there are two good teams,” Flom said. “We knew they were going to make a run. We would’ve probably made a run if we were behind in the second half.”
After the Raiders’ furious rally, things slowed down considerably. Both teams took their time on the offensive end. Eden Prairie ended up with the final possession. With Dobbs starting the final play, the ball never left his hand as he drove to the hoop and scored the game-winner.
“Not at all,” Dobbs said when asked if the game plan was for him to keep the ball. “But (Oturu) hedged, so I got to the lane real quick.”
The Eagles head into the postseason with a core that is mostly sophomores. This includes their top four scorers — Andrews (18.8 points per game), Dobbs (18.4), John Henry (12.1) and Connor Christensen (11.8). And while things began to tighten up late in the second half on Wednesday, the underclassmen stayed the course.
“When other coaches and teams watch, one of the things they usually mention is how poised our sophomores are,” Flom said. “They have that confidence. At this point it’s not a surprise for us when you look at the impressive wins we have.”
This season, Eden Prairie went 7-7 against teams currently ranked in the top 20 in Class 4A. That list doesn’t include the Eagles’ wins against No. 1-3A DeLaSalle and No. 2-2A Minnehaha Academy.
Eden Prairie now heads into the Class 4A, Section 2 playoffs. The Eagles look to be the choice as the No. 1 seed but will be challenged by the likes of No. 16-4A Edina and No. 19-4A Chaska. The Hawks will be one to watch out for as Chaska defeated Eden Prairie in the section final on a buzzer-beater a season ago.
“We’re not going to forget this one, but we have to be smart about it,” Dobbs said. “This is a huge win but we have to keep moving forward.”
After leading by as many as 16 on Wednesday, Eden Prairie thwarted off a furious rally by Cretin-Derham Hall and got a key basket from sophomore guard Drake Dobbs with two seconds left as the Eagles knocked off the Raiders 65-63 at Schoenecker Arena at the University of St. Thomas.
Eden Prairie (19-7, 4-4) pulled off the upset of Cretin-Derham Hall, ranked No. 1 in Class 4A by Minnesota Basketball News, after getting out to a strong start early. The No. 14-4A Eagles led by 12 at the half thanks to sophomore forward John Henry’s 14 first-half points. He finished with a game-best 21 points.
The Raiders (23-2, 15-0) stormed back thanks to a strong effort from its big guns — senior forwards Sy Chatman and Daniel Oturu. The duo helped get Cretin-Derham Hall back into Wednesday’s game. Chatman finished with a team-high 20 points while Oturu finished with 15 points.
The Eagles finished with three players in double figures. Aside from Henry, Dobbs finished with 17 and sophomore forward Austin Andrews finished with 14.
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