ALEXANDRIA — With under three seconds to play, Fergus Falls senior Dominic Aguilar played hero for the Otter boys’ basketball team Tuesday as he hit a game-winning 3-pointer to put the Otters over the Annandale Cardinals 47-44 in the Class AA state quarterfinals Tuesday.
“It was a battle, they were a really good team, they’re big and physical, we rebounded better than we have all year against that big of a team and I’m so proud of our guys that we get to go play at the Target Center and I’m so excited,” Otters guard Dominic Aguilar said after scoring the game winning shot. “We’ve been running that play since my sophomore year and as soon as we got it over on that side I knew we were going to advance it and call a timeout. I go ‘Coach we have to run Boston,’ we ran it — it ran perfectly.”
The two teams began the on court battle with 11 lead changes between the squads. The Otters held a slim lead and look to expand it, but just as they got their footing the Cardinals would respond with a basket of their own. Fergus Falls headed into the locker room holding a 30-29 advantage.
The second half played out much like the first as neither team could pull away. The Otters would hold a four-point lead late in the game, but the Cardinals would tie the game again 44-44, scoring the back-to-back buckets. Both teams would have opportunities down the stretch to take the lead but neither could pull ahead. Annandale would commit a travel and give the ball back to Fergus Falls with 3.6 seconds remaining in regulation. As the ball was inbounded, Luke Newman dished it to Aguilar as he knocked down a 3-pointer to give the Otters the win.
“Gutsy, that was the best coached team we’ve played against in terms of executing a plan against us and making us adjust and what a chess match,” Otters head coach Matt Johnson said. “Dominic Aguilar was so good tonight in the first half carrying us. Offensively we started going through Chance (Fazio) and I thought he played a great game and then for Dom to get to hit that shot — and that’s the experience of a lifetime — so happy for him.”
The Otters were led in by Chance Fazio with a double-double of 16 points and 10 rebounds, while Aguilar added 14 points and Kaden Conklin chimed in with 10.
The Otters were elated after the victory.
“We had a great team we were just playing in Annandale, huge length and everybody, all five guys were boxing out, rebounding, the team played up to our scouting report and we got the win and that was what counted, it feels great,” Otters center Chance Fazio said.
“We haven’t been here in five or six years but it’s magical for our guys and I think we just have to keep enjoying the ride, one more every single day. We have to win another one, we have two more left,” Aguilar said.
Annadale was led in scoring by Hawkin Miller with 13 points, while teammate Logan Purcell also had 10 points.
Annandale finishes their season with an 18-2 record.
The Otters will travel to the Target Center to take on the winner of Morris Area/Chokio-Alberta and Waseca at 5 p.m. Wednesday, April 7.