TEMPERANCE — As a team moves on at tournament time, each game presents a new set of challenges.
For Bedford against Ypsilanti Lincoln in a Michigan Class A boys basketball district semifinal game, it was 3-pointers and a stifling full-court press.
Despite nine 3-pointers by Lincoln and constant full-court pressure, the Mules managed to escape with a 60-58 win Wednesday night thanks to a late block by senior Dennis Guss.
With 7.8 seconds left and Bedford hanging on to a 60-58 lead, Lincoln sophomore guard Sherrod Motley-Dismuke pulled up from long range. Guss was able to get a finger-tip block, and the ball ended up in the hands of Jackson Lamb, who held on to the ball as time expired.
"Dennis got his hands on that," Bedford coach Nick Lowe said of the last shot. "Dennis has got very quick hands, and he anticipated well. I thought we played great initial defense where they got a little discombobulated and were kind of panicking a little bit and just got something wild. We were not only good enough to get a tip, but we secured the rebound and dribbled out the clock."
Lincoln extended its defense for most of the game after a basket and forced Bedford to speed up the pace of the game, which often led to turnovers by the Mules.
"It was a trapping press, so it was going to give you a lot of pressure," Bedford junior Adam Swisher said. "It was hard to get the ball where we wanted to go, so we just tried to mix it up and do different things to change it up."
Bedford was able to overcome the 3-point shooting of Lincoln and its own turnovers by getting to the foul line with regularity, sinking 19 free throws on the game.
"[Lincoln] shot the ball better tonight than we've seen them shoot it all year," Lowe said. "To their credit, their 3-point shooting kept them in the game. I thought we handled their press much better in the second half, and we got to the free-thow line."
Lamb led Bedford with 22 points, including 12 in the second half. He also grabbed 10 rebounds. Bradley Boss added 16 points, and Swisher had 10. Jeremiah Harris scored eight points and pulled down 10 rebounds.
Motley-Dismuke paced Lincoln with 15 points, including three 3-pointers, and Tyler Mabry added 14.
Bedford led 58-52 with 1:32 remaining in the game, after two free throws by Dylan Barr. But Lincoln hit two late 3-pointers, with the last one cutting the Bedford lead to 59-58 with 37 seconds left.
Lamb then missed two free-throws, but Harris rebounded the last miss and found Boss who made one of two free throws to set up the final Lincoln possession.
The game wasn’t always pretty for Bedford, but it found a way to win.
"We told our guys after the game the one thing you never do in a tournament is apologize for winning, whether you win by two or by 10 or by 20, you never apologize," Lowe said. "The whole theory is just win and advance however you need to do that."
Bedford moves to 18-2 on the season and will play Milan (20-1) on Friday in the district final game. Lincoln closed the season with a mark of 8-13.