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What's Better Than A Buzzer-Beater? How About 3 ... In A Single Game?


So it is March, the height of basketball season. But college and pro ballers are not the only ones serving up thrills. This past Thursday, there was an epic basketball game in Minnesota. A couple of high school rivals collided in a regional championship game that went to not one, not two overtime periods but four. And you know how exciting a last-second buzzer-beater is - this one had three of them. It was Waseca v. Marshall. Waseca was leading as they neared the end of regulation time. Matt Collins was in the crowd.

MATTHEW COLLINS: They actually missed some free throws that allowed Marshall to crawl back into the game. And Marshall came down and hit the three that rolled around the rim and sat on top of the rim and eventually went in to send it into overtime.


MARTIN: So that's one last-second shot to tie it up. The overtime period that followed ended in yet another tie. The next overtime - same thing, another tie. It came down to a third heart-pounding overtime. Let's skip to the end. Marshall is up three points with only one second left on the clock. Waseca was all the way at the other end of the court.

COLLINS: The whole place thought the game was over. Some people around us were starting to leave. And Waseca then inbounded it then to Nick Dufault, who is their kind of star player. And from around the opposite free-throw line, he just turned and threw it up.

MARTIN: Now, consider that a regular three-point shot is about 20-feet away. Dufault was almost 80 feet from his own basket when he let it go.

COLLINS: It didn't even touch the rim. It went straight through the basket. I mean, it was unbelievable.




MARTIN: Needless to say, nobody else was leaving early as the game headed into the fourth overtime. Marshall tied up the game again with time running out. And as if Hollywood were writing the script, enter the unlikely hero - 17-year-old junior Cole Streich, a guy who could have put the game away for Waseca earlier.

COLE STREICH: Yeah, at the end of regulation, I had a free throw where I could have put us up by four. And then I ended up missing that, and I knew I had to make up for it somehow.

MARTIN: And redemption awaits those who seek it. With five seconds on the clock, Streich got the ball near half-court. As he dribbled toward the basket, defenders seemed to be backing away from him. The sea parted. They were focusing on the guy who sank that 80-footer earlier in the game.

STREICH: So they left me wide open. No one came out to guard me.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: Go, go, go, go, go...

MARTIN: Three, two, one...

STREICH: So I just shot it.



MARTIN: Swish.


MARTIN: A third-buzzer beater, this one for the win.

STREICH: It was just chaos. Everyone went wild in the crowd, and we were just all ecstatic that we won.

MARTIN: Final score - Waseca 103, Marshall 100. Amid the frenzy though, Matt Collins noticed the Marshall players on the court trying to process something beyond just the pain of a loss.

COLLINS: They acknowledged and realized how incredible of a game that was. And I think that's a game that no team should have to lose. But there was definitely a mutual respect that - wow - that we just played a classic game that's going to go down in history.

MARTIN: Smelling salts not included with the ticket price - should've been.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Michel Martin is the weekend host of All Things Considered, where she draws on her deep reporting and interviewing experience to dig in to the week's news. Outside the studio, she has also hosted "Michel Martin: Going There," an ambitious live event series in collaboration with Member Stations.