CARNEY - North Central coach Adam Mercier called it a "travesty."
Anyone in the crowd at Carney-Nadeau Wednesday night might have agreed.
A pop bottle thrown from the stands helped the host Wolves record a 58-57 victory in the tense Class D boys basketball district semifinal.
North Central forward Bryce Bilski loses control of the ball and is fouled on the way to the basket as Wade Schetter (3) and Keenan Lampinen of Carney-Nadeau defend during Wednesday’s Class D district semifinal at Carney. (Daily Press photo by Keith Shelton)
The Jets had a 55-54 lead when an intentional foul was called on Carney-Nadeau with three seconds left. At that point, a North Central fan threw a pop bottle onto the court. The three referees met with both coaches and game officials to discuss the issue before assessing a technical foul on the North Central cheering section.
First, North Central's Cody Whitens hit two free throws to give the Jets a 57-54 lead.
Then C-N's Wade Schetter was awarded the technical free throws and made both shots, bringing the Wolves within 57-56.
C-N's Lucas Moreau then in-bounded the ball from near half-court, throwing to Schetter, who
took three dribbles and fired up a one-handed off-balance shot near the free throw line to hit the game-winner at the buzzer.
"For that (thrown bottle) to decide the game tonight is frustrating," said Mercier. "It's just a travesty that those circumstances took place tonight. It's a shame our season ended on something like that. It's tough for our kids to have victory ripped away like that. It's just devastating for our kids."
Despite the tumultuous finish, the fans departed in orderly fashion, but Mercier was still disappointed at the conduct of his team's fans.
"Our kids did everything right. They have nothing to be ashamed of," he said. "They handled it with class and they understand that there were circumstances tonight that cost us the game. It was out of our control.
"Our seniors fought tooth and nail tonight as they have all season. They have nothing to hang their heads about and they did a lot of great things for this school. They have great things ahead of them and we're going to miss them."
On the other side of the court, the Wolves were simply in awe of what they accomplished. Sophmore guard Keenan Lampinen was on the court when Schetter hit his shot.
"I had no clue (Schetter) was going to hit that. I was just running around, doing my play and Wade made the last shot," he said. "I'm just ecstatic. There's just something up above helping us out."
Moreau knew this could have been his final game, and to be a part of an instant-classic was fantastic.
"Words just can't explain it. This is what you want, to be 11-0 at home," he said. "When you're a senior, in your mind, everything is going to be over anyway. Tonight was meant to happen, everything about it."
Both coaches talked about what the rivalry means, especially being that each team is playing at a high level.
"It's great for the two towns, great for the conference, it's just awesome," said Wolves coach Jake Polfus. "The kids get amped up this game. I'll be giving our kids a bit of a break. They're emotionally drained after tonight but hopefully we can come back with pop Friday (against Bark River-Harris) and go from there."
Mercier said he was happy to see the rivalry return in strength.
"It's nice to see it back. I remember when me and Jake played against each other. Both our teams were pretty good back then. We're back on the map now and we've had some great close games. This one might generate interest in offseason workouts with the type of emotion that was displayed after the game."