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Two Eagle River clips Noxon, 56-55

Feb. 14—It may not be kosher to think of a loss in a basketball game as a positive "statement" to be making.

Winning is ultimately all that matters, "experts" say.

But if ever there was a game where the losing team may have gained some followers, it would be Noxon's narrow 56-55 loss to home-standing Two Eagle River (TER) in a Western 14C boys conference battle that had potentially big playoff implications.

The Noxon girls followed that loss with a 36-29 win over the TER Lady Eagles in a game that created a tournament seeding logjam among the third, fourth and fifth seeds, at least temporarily.

Two Eagle's boys came into the contest with a 6-2 league mark and an outside chance to overtake conference leader St. Regis. The Eagles, who hosted St. Regis Thursday night, were the only team to have beaten St. Regis, meaning a loss to Noxon would have handed the regular season title outright to St. Regis. St. Regis cleared up that matter with a 12-point win over Two Eagle on the Eagles home court Thursday night.

Noxon, on the other hand was emerging as a possible fourth player in the chase for the top and wanted a win over TER on their resume heading into the post-season tourney.

They came close, losing after erasing a 10-point halftime deficit to the Eagles that fell one long shot short of the victory they were coveting.

Two Eagle came out running and gunning in the first quarter on their way to a 22-16 lead. But the Red Devils, behind the inside power of 6-3 junior forward Shane Murray and the all-around athleticism of 6-1 junior Ricky Williams battled back to eventually take the game into the final ticks of the clock.

They used a 19-11 third quarter scoring advantage to all but eliminate the home team lead, sending the game into the final quarter with the Eagles holding on to a 45-43 lead.

Both teams traded baskets the rest of the way, nestled among some missed free throws and untimely turnovers.

In the end, Noxon's comeback fell just short as a long Hail Mary heave down court was off the mark, preserving the Two Eagle win by a single point.

Appropriately named Eagle player Talon Addison led the home team with 19 points, while teammate Jabez Madplume had 14 for TER.

Williams led all scorers with 22 points, many of them off acrobatic, twisting lay-ins. Murray, who has been a rebounding and scoring force for the Red Devils in their second half surge, finished with 17 points. The Red Devils likely opponent for this weekend 14C tournament will be TER, the probable third seed via an 0-2 record versus Charlo in regular season head-to-head play.

The Noxon Lady Devils, meanwhile, were looking to move into a 2-6 conference tie with the Lady Eagles via a win Tuesday night. A Lady Devils win would be a split among the two schools and call in the next level of tie-breaker to decide 3-4-5 seeds in the conference scramble that began when Alberton's girls opted out of playing this season due to injuries and low turnout.

Stay tuned.

The Eagles, who got their first conference win of the year versus Noxon February 2, were hoping to simplify things with another win over the Lady Devils, who had yet to win a game this year.

The two teams showed the intensity of the upcoming playoffs in the first quarter, which saw the Lady Eagles emerge with a 10-9 lead. Noxon outscored the home team 13-11 in the second quarter to eliminate that slim lead and take a one-point advantage into halftime, 22-21.

Then, in the third quarter, Noxon's defense limited TER to just two points, giving the Lady Devils a precarious 30-23 lead heading into the final quarter.

Both teams scored half a dozen points in the final eight minutes of play, helping Noxon preserve its seven point lead and giving them their first win of the season.

A Noxon loss to Hot Springs two nights later in Hot Springs, ended the drama, giving TER the fourth seed and leaving Noxon with the fifth seed.

The Lady Devils will likely face second seed Hot Springs in the opening round of the playoffs this Friday.

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