NEW ULM - With 9.8 seconds left, New Ulm junior center Tyler Dittrich had the chance to be the hero for the New Ulm boys basketball team Saturday.
The Eagles were tied at 65 with Blue Earth Area and point guard Jackson Yackley penetrated the lane as time was winding down. At that point, Dittrich stepped a few feet outside of the lane and Yackley found him with a pass.
Dittrich, who stands 6-foot-6, calmly knocked down the short jumper as time expired to give the Eagles a 67-65 South Central Conference victory.
Staff photo by Steve Muscatello
New Ulm’s Tyler Dittrich (52) reaches to try to pull a rebound away from Colin Squiers and Brad More (13) of Blue Earth Area during the second half Saturday at NUHS.
Dittrich, the tallest player on the floor, seemed to stand taller as he was immediately surrounded by his teammates when the Eagles went into celebration mode. The win improved New Ulm's record to 4-10 overall and 2-2 in the SCC while the Bucs drop to 4-4 overall and 1-2 in conference play.
"We were supposed to isolate out with our point guard [Yackley] and just kind of take them one-on-one," Dittrich said. "We were going to let him go, but they just sank to him and I just popped out."
"We were trying to set up a play for Jack [Yackley] to make a play and go to the rim," New Ulm coach Steve Foley said. "They defended it very well. Jack did a great job, he attacked and found Tyler on the weak side wing and Tyler didn't miss."
Dittrich and Chris Mulder led a balanced New Ulm scoring attack with 12 points each. Sam Miller scored 11 points while Grant Kannegiesser finished with nine points.
Tanner Kluis and Yackley each scored eight points.
Dittrich's jumper may have been the perfect ending for a game that the Eagles looked like they were going to run away with earlier. After going into halftime tied at 33, they took over early in the second half and stretched the lead over the Bucs to 14 points with 11:30 left in the game.
"I think it was just good ball movement and taking good shots," Foley said of the 19-7 run over the first six minutes of the second half. "When we stand around and don't take it to the rim, we're in trouble. But I think we just got the ball down the court and started making plays."
While the run built a big lead for New Ulm, it eventually eroded away as the Bucs used free throws and turnovers to climb back into the game.
The Bucs used the inside-outside crew of guard Dallas Barslou and posts Luke Monson and Steven Plocker to slowly come back.
A Barslou 3-pointer cut New Ulm's lead to 54-45 with about 10 minutes left in the game. Later, Monson scored inside with 8:23 left to cut the lead to 54-52 as the Bucs themselves went on a 12-0 run to counter New Ulm's earlier run.
"There was about five minutes where we went down the court, just foul after foul and they hit free throws every time," Dittrich said. "It made the game longer and it got it closer."
The game eventually was tied at 57 on a basket by Plocker with 5:10 remaining and Derek Johnson gave the Bucs the lead again (they led for a majority of the first half) at 61-59.
The Bucs were led by Barslou's 15 points and Johnson scored 13 points. Plocker (12 points), Monson (11 points) and Brandon Olsen (seven points) also led the Bucs.
Dittrich hit a big basket inside to tie it at 61 with 3:19 remaining and the Eagles took a 65-62 lead after Yackley hit a 3 with 1:30 left.
The Bucs tied it eventually with a single free throw on three straight possessions, the last coming with 38.5 seconds left. New Ulm called a time-out and wore the clock down to less than10 seconds to set up Dittrich's heroics.
New Ulm hosts Belle Plaine at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in a nonconference battle.
After the game-winning shot, Dittrich summed up his feelings pretty well.
"It feels great when the crowd goes wild like that, it's the best feeling ever," Dittrich said.