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Klitzke beats buzzer
Times photo: Anthony Wahl Monticellos Austin Steffen and Judas Joey Jordan both fight for the rebound during their second round playoff game Saturday night in Monticello. The Ponies defeated Juda with a buzzer-beating layup 32-30.

MONTICELLO - For Monticello junior Bryce Klitzke, the scene was still a blur after he drove in and hit a game-winning buzzer beater to knock off Juda 32-30 in a WIAA Division 5 regional semifinal on Saturday.

With 5.9 seconds left and the Panthers pressing, the Ponies had to go the full length of the court. Monticello sophomore Lucas Marty pushed the ball and made a pinpoint pass to a cutting Klitzke for the game-winner, and the Ponies' fans mobbed Klitzke.

"Somehow I ended up in the corner," Klitzke said. "I thought I was going to go down to the floor and I somehow just windmilled it up there and it went in. I didn't know what happened. It was just crazy and the crowd came at me. Lucas made a great pass."

Monticello coach Mark Olson wanted to give senior Lukas Kolasch or sophomore Lucas Marty a last second shot.

"I thought they would be denying Kolasch, and we wanted to try to get him a handoff or have Marty flash. I think Bryce's guy stepped out on Marty. Bryce made a heck of a play."

With the win, Monticello (16-8) advances to take on No. 1 ranked Randolph in a regional championship game tonight.

On Saturday, with a 30-27 lead and a little more than 2 minutes, 30 seconds to go, the Panthers passed the ball around until an errant pass sailed out of bounds with 1:44 left. Monticello junior Aaron Hefty scored on a putback and was fouled in the process, with 1:30 left. He converted the three-point play to tie the game at 30.

"I was just hoping to take it up and get a foul, and it went in," Hefty said. "Every time we play Juda it's going to be a close game. It just comes down to the way the ball bounces. I'm just glad we won."

The Panthers had a golden opportunity to regain the lead late after Juda coach Mike Armitage took two timeouts in the final 1:05. Juda senior Brandon Bauman just missed a jumper and Monticello's Austin Steffen grabbed the rebound to set up Klitzke's late game heroics.

"I thought we executed just fine," Armitage said. "We just didn't get it to go."

Juda senior Joey Jordan scored a game-high 11 points.

"We were in it to win it," Jordan said. "We had some good shots the last couple times we had the ball. The shots just didn't fall."

The Panthers charged out to a 9-3 lead after jumpers by Bauman and Jordan. The Ponies shot just 1 of 9 in the first quarter and committed four turnovers.

Monticello turned it around however, going on a 10-0 run from the end of the first quarter and into the second.

Kolasch, who scored eight points, drilled a 3-pointer and senior Evan Schultz scored down low about midway through the second quarter to give the Ponies a 13-9 lead. The Panthers battled back as Jordan and junior Matt Trotter hit 3-pointers to give the Panthers a 17-14 halftime lead.

"I thought in the first half we were not getting to the rim," Olson said. "We weren't attacking the basket like we should have. We focused on that in the second half. I thought both teams played good defense. We did enough defensively to keep us in it, and we made big plays at big moments."

Olson said he looks forward to playing against top-ranked Randolph tonight.

"I feel like when we go up there, we have nothing to lose," he said. "We have to be ready for their physicality. They are very athletic and strong. We have to keep them out of the paint. They like to pound it down low on you."