In practice, the coaching staff always gets onto Ashden Oberg for not hurrying back on the floor, but his hustle play Saturday may have saved the Montrose boys basketball team’s season.
With less than 10 seconds remaining in overtime in a tied ballgame, Oberg found himself wide open underneath the net after Montrose forced a bad Evergreen shot. Montrose’s sixth man was thrown the ball around half court, laying it in as the final seconds ticked away, giving the Indians (20-4) a 48-46 home win over the Evergreen Cougars.
“I wasn’t ever thinking that (he would take the game-winning shot),” Oberg said. “My thought was I’m going to play as hard as I can. It’s just exciting.”
His layup gave Montrose its second trip to the Sweet 16 in three years.
Montrose needed all of Oberg’s four points, which all coming in OT as his other field goal proved to be another important play down the stretch. After Montrose’s Sean Alex’s second free throw clanked off the cylinder, Oberg got the offensive rebound and the layup to go in, giving Montrose a 43-42 advantage after Evergreen scored the opening bucket of overtime.
“The biggest play of the game was his offensive rebound and the putback on our missed free throw,” coach Ryan Voehringer said. “(We had) two huge plays by Oberg.”
Oberg had a self-deprecating view of his winning bucket, referring back to his lack of hustle during practice.
His teammates seem to like Oberg’s humor.
Montrose forward Luke Hutto said the team does give Oberg some good-natured ribbing. But more importantly, the sixth man is an invaluable member for the Indians, Hutto added.
“He’s one of the hardest-working players on the team,” Hutto said. “He deserves it.”
Oberg typically wouldn’t have been out on the floor in overtime but he had to fill in for Hutto who fouled out of the contest with 9.8 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter.
Before he had to sit out of the game, Evergreen had no answer for Hutto as he finished with a game-high 25 points including 15 in the first half.
“I was just trying to work hard and get my teammates involved,” said Hutto, who was battling a cold the day of the game. “I wasn’t getting doubled so I took advantage of it.”
Voehringer said Hutto has the ability when he gets the ball down low to drive either to the left or right.
“He’s just a great offensive player,” Voehringer said. “And I thought he played extremely well defensively. … Hands down this was his best game of the season.”
Overall, the team’s defense proved to be an important factor in the contest as it prevented Evergreen from getting into the paint, where the team usually likes to score, Voehringer said.
“Defense wins games at the end of the year,” he said.
The Cougars started the game with a 12-11 edge at the end of the first quarter. But following their early lead to start the second period, the visitors didn’t have another one until overtime.
The Indians, meanwhile, got out to their biggest lead, 24-16, toward the end of the first half, but the Cougars cut the deficit to two, 24-22, before halftime.
In the second half, Evergreen tied the game up multiple times but could never seem to be able to take the lead.
Although, with a minute remaining in the fourth quarter, Montrose had a four-point advantage, Evergreen went to the line twice, allowing the Cougars to send the game into overtime.
The last four minutes proved to be a battle as the teams combined for six lead changes and two ties.
The visitors’ last advantage came at 46-45 but Alex, who finished the contest with 10 points, split a pair of free throws to bring the game to a stalemate before Oberg’s game-winning shot.
Up next, the ninth-ranked Montrose Indians will be at home at 7 p.m. on Wednesday after No. 25 seat Lincoln upset Cheyenne Mountain, the eighth seed, also on Saturday.
Although the Lincoln-Cheyenne Mountain hadn’t started following Montrose’s win, Voehringer said either team will present a challenge due to each one laying claim to a soon-to-be DI basketball player.
But Montrose was hoping the winner would be Lincoln as the Indians wanted to avenge last season’s playoff loss to the Lancers. Oberg and Hutto both said they wanted the rematch due in part to it being played in their own gym this time around.
“I’m just proud of my guys and we’ll be ready to go against whoever we play,” Voehringer said. “Survive and advance; that’s the motto.”