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Brayden Wolfgram's last-second shot lifts Thompson past Grafton in Region 2 tournament

Mar. 5—MAYVILLE — An on-the-spot offensive decision — coupled with an architectural choice made years ago — helped Thompson upset Grafton and advance to the Division A Region 2 title game.

A basket by senior guard Brayden Wolfgram put Thompson ahead 58-57 with just two seconds to play and, after a fluke play moments later, Thompson's Drew Odenbach added two free throws as the Tommies beat Grafton, the tournament's No. 1 seed, 60-57 on Tuesday at Mayville State.

The win pushes Thompson into Thursday's title game, against Devils Lake.

Down 57-56 after Grafton got a pair of free throws from Tony Villarreall with 11 seconds left, Thompson set up what would be the game-winning play. The ball was in-bounded to Wolfgram, about halfway between the top of the key and the half-court line. He juked right and then pushed left, driving the lane before laying in a short basket.

The plan wasn't for him to shoot, he said, but the opportunity presented itself and he took it.

"We drew up a play, but it wasn't for me. Sometimes, you just have to improvise," Wolfgram said. "It's an amazing feeling, obviously, because it was a big upset."

But with 1.6 seconds left on the clock, Grafton still had one last chance. After Wolfgram's drive, the Spoilers took the ball out under Thompson's basket. But a long pass intended to be a full-court lob to waiting players under the Grafton basket squarely hit a rafter near mid-court of Mayville State University's Wellness Center.

After the ball was ruled out of bounds, Thompson took possession and was fouled. Odenbach hit his two free throws to put the Tommies up by three with less than a second to play.

Another full-court pass — this one didn't hit a rafter — was secured by a Grafton player, but the Hail Mary shot was off the mark as the buzzer sounded.

"I thought we were poised late in the game," Thompson coach Brady Schwab said. "We didn't rush shots. We didn't force things. And we rebounded in the second half better than we did in the first half."

Wolfgram's last-second shot was fitting, Schwab said, considering he's a senior leader who "knew the situation."

"Brayden saw an opening as he cleared out that one side. And he finished the play, which is the hard part, too," Schwab said.

Grafton (17-4) beat Thompson twice during the regular season, 72-60 and 73-69. This time, the game was close throughout, and especially in the final minutes.

Braden Tyce tied the game at 50 with a pair of free throws with 2:25 to play, but Grafton's Villarreall responded with a 3-pointer to make it 53-50 with 1:54 remaining. Tyce hit a driving shot to cut Grafton's lead to one, and soon thereafter, Thompson's Drew Overby got a steal and layup to put the Tommies up 54-53.

After both teams missed, Villarreal hit a 14-footer at the elbow to put Grafton ahead 55-54 before Thompson's Overby hit two free throws with 33 seconds left to put Thompson up by one.

With 11 seconds to play, Villarreall drove the lane and was fouled; he made both free throws.

Thompson crossed half-court and called timeout with seven seconds left, setting up Wolfgram's dramatic drive through the lane.

"Basically, they had the ball last and with time on the clock. That's kind of what happened," said Grafton coach Riley Lillemoen. "It seemed we were trading punches. ... And they made the play at the end when they needed it. We battled hard and took the lead with those free throws, but just left a little too much time for them to get to the basket, I guess."

Grafton led 18-15 after the first quarter, but Thompson went up 27-24 at halftime.

Thompson was 18-of-50 from the field and 19-of-21 from the free-throw line, while Grafton was 20-of-59 and 12-of-14, respectively.

For Thompson, Overby had 16 points, Gavin Krogstad 13, Tyce 12 and Karter Peterson eight. Grafton got 19 points from Villarreal, 15 from Braylon Baldwin and 11 from Ryan Hanson.

Thompson, now 13-9, plays Devils Lake at approximately 7 p.m. on Thursday for the regional title. If the Tommies win, they'll advance to the state Division A tournament.

Grafton plays Four Winds/Minnewaukan at 5:30 p.m. Thursday for third place. Both games are at Mayville State University.