Grizzlies get past Fond du Lac Ojibwe in wild 7A semifinal finishKello Brown will play in Tuesday’s Minnesota versus Wisconsin Border Battle All-Star game at 8 p.m. March 27 at Romano Gymnasium on the University of Minnesota Duluth campus.
By: Tyler Korby, Pine Journal
HIBBING – A disheartened Kello Brown sat alone at the end of the bench Wednesday as his high school basketball career ended – shoes off and white sweatband in hand – unable to finish the game because he’d fouled out.
Ogichidaa teammates Lee St. John and Trevontae Brown also fouled out, and the FDL Ojibwe found themselves on the short side of a gut-wrenching 75-71 double overtime loss to North Woods in the Section 7A semifinals last Wednesday evening at the Hibbing Memorial Arena.
“It was pretty hard,” Kello Brown said about sitting on the bench throughout most of the first and the entire second overtime. “We made some mistakes in the end. It was just hard not to come out on top.”
The Ogichidaa have been here before. A year ago, FDL lost in the same semifinal round to Chisholm 64-62 in Duluth. Plagued again by late-game chaos and this year, foul trouble, the Ogichidaa watched things slip away again.
Brown fouled out in the first overtime along with sophomore cousin Trevontae Brown, while senior Lee St. John sat on the sidelines for the last couple minutes of regulation. Yet, first-year Coach Earl Otis said opportunities were missed.
“We should have won the game before then,” he said. “There were a lot of things that we could have done differently. I can’t blame the refs.”
Yet, many people left Hibbing with questions after an official called a foul on FDL when they were ahead 63-62, after North Woods’ senior Elijahjuan Dotts took a desperation heave as the buzzer rang simultaneously.
Ogichidaa players leapt for joy … until Dotts walked to the free throw line. Missing the first, Dotts converted the back end and sent the game to OT at 63-63. After losing the Brown cousins in the opening OT tied at 68-68, foul trouble hindered FDL. By the second extra session, the Grizzlies pulled away from the thin Ogichidaa.
“I saw the buzzer go off and then a couple seconds later, I realized the ref called a foul,” Kello Brown said. “We thought that we should have won the game and were pretty sad afterward, but North Woods is a very good team and we stood strong with them. It was a good challenge.”
Trevontae Brown agreed with his teammate, explaining that the tight losses to Chisholm and North Woods over time have been difficult. Trevontae said the locker room was quiet after last week, but the defeat was unforgettable.
“I’m not going to forget those games; they were some of the best I’ve ever played in,” Trevontae said. “We didn’t want to talk much and felt like a bunch of dreams got shot, but we realized we had a great team and had a good season.”
That’s true. Despite being seeded sixth, the small tribal school Ogichidaa again turned heads in this year’s playoffs. And sure, they were a win short of the championship, but Otis kept things positive this week.
“This one is still hard to swallow today,” Otis said Wednesday, “but these kids really came together as a team. They bought into things and made another good run at the end. I was proud of them.”
Kello Brown paced FDL (14-14) with 32 points, while Trevontae Brown collected 19, including five three-pointers.
Dotts led the Grizzlies with 24 points against FDL, before North Woods lost to Lakeview Christian Academy in the championship two nights later.
“I don’t know if we’ll ever make it there again,” Trevontae Brown said. “It was disappointing, knowing we should have won that game.”
Although Otis still is coping with the heartbreaker himself, he noted that things happen, especially in sports.
“That’s basketball,” he said. “Some guys were crying afterward and I just told them we played a good game. I just told them I was proud.”
Despite closing his high school career, Kello Brown was looking on the bright side as well.
“I loved playing with these guys,” Kello said. “We were very talented; we just came up a little short. Life goes on. I’m excited to see them play next year.”
Wednesday, March 14
Section 7A Semifinals
North Woods 75, Fond du Lac Ojibwe 71
For Fond du Lac - Kello Brown 32, Trevonte Brown 19, Bruce Martineau 9, Lee St. John 6, Brian Rich 3, Josyaah Budreau 2. 3-point goals - Rich 1, K. Brown 2, T Brown 5, Martineau 1.