Menominee players celebrate after Tyler Howell’s layup at the buzzer lifted the Maroons to a victory over Southern Door Thursday night. EagleHerald/Tom Kaeser
Menominee players celebrate after Tyler Howell’s layup at the buzzer lifted the Maroons to a victory over Southern Door Thursday night. EagleHerald/Tom Kaeser
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MENOMINEE - Four seconds left, three players executing flawlessly and one huge, heart-racing win for Menominee.

Tyler Howell sank a layup at the buzzer to lift the Maroons to a 54-52 victory over a strong Southern Door (8-5) team Thursday night.

The Eagles had the game in their hands with 36 seconds left and the score tied at 52.

Instead of setting up for a last shot, Southern Door went for an open five-footer, which rolled off the rim.

Devon Harris cleared the rebound, fired a pass to Devon Barley just inside the midcourt line and Barley zipped a pass to Howell for an uncontested layup as the horn sounded.

"That's a huge win for us," coach Pete Pericolosi said. "Harris got a big rebound and Barley made a heck of a pass. We played hard. We scrapped."

Southern Door returns 10 players from last year and gave the top ranked Division 3 team in the state, NEW Lutheran, all it could handle in a 65-58 loss.

A stifling defensive effort and another burst of 3-point sharpshooting powered the Maroons to a 31-16 lead early in the third quarter.

Eagles' coach Josh Rankin switched to a physical zone defense to pester Menominee into seven turnovers in the third period. Southern Door capitalized on the Maroon mistakes to mount a 11-0 closing run in the quarter.

Lance Klaubauf's drive to the iron gave the Eagles a 40-39 lead heading into the final period.

"We told the kids at halftime we have to adjust. The refs are letting us play and we have to match their physicality," Rankin said.

Pericolosi noted that the Eagles' zone threw the Maroons' out of their rhythm.

"When they went to a zone, it confused us a little bit."

Adam Nolde pocketed his fourth 3-ball of the night to spike the Maroons to a 46-41 lead early in the fourth quarter, but Southern Door countered with a Klaubauf triple and two FTs from Cal McCarty evened the score at 46 with 4:45 left.

Freshman Marcus McKenney turned in a heady play to give Menominee a 52-49 lead on an inbounds play when he bounced the ball off the back of an Eagle, took the ricochet and drew a foul while whirling toward the basket. His two FTs pushed the Maroon lead to 52-49 with 1:52 remaining.

"What a savvy play by McKenney," said Pericolosi. "You can tell he watches a lot of basketball."

Austin Rohe swiped an inside lob and Nick LeCaptain sank two FTs to produce the 52-52 tie with 1:10 left.

Menominee used its uptempo game to sink 8 of 14 shots in the first quarter while breaking out to a 20-9 lead.

"We knew Harris was quick, and that was evident tonight," Rankin said. "We were aware they had good shooters, but we didn't think they were that good, especially (McKenney and Nolde)."

The Maroon defense stayed tough in the second quarter to offset a 4 of 14 struggle from the floor. Menominee frustrated the Eagles into a 7 of 25 slog in the first half, while 29-16 lead into the locker room.

"Our defense played hard the whole game," said Pericolosi. "When we play hard all the time, things are going to work out."

The Eagles, who start four 6-foot-3 players and a 6-5 player, were never able to hammer the Maroons inside.

"We wanted to get inside, but they took it away," said Rankin.

Howell led Menominee with 17 points. Nolde, who has drilled in 10 3-pointers in the last two games, added 16, and McKenney added 12, including a pair of 3-pointers.

Howell and Harris each had seven rebounds and Harris dished off seven assists.

The Maroons (5-3) sank just 38 percent of their shots (22 of 58), including a 7 of 20 night from the 3-point arc.

Rohe led Southern Door with 12 points. The Eagles missed 10 of 18 free throws.

SOUTHERN DOOR (52) - Larsen 2, Gerend 10, LeCaptain 2, Klaubauf 11, Hawkey 10, Neubauer 2, McCarty 3, Rohe 12. FTs: 7-18
MENOMINEE (54) - McKenney 12, Woods, 3, Harris 6, Nolde 16, Howell 17, Cattani 0, Clausen 0. 22 FTs: 3-6

Southern Door 11 7 22 12 - 52
Menominee 20 9 10 15 - 54