WATERLOO — With his team trailing by seven points late in the fourth quarter, Freeburg sophomore Jacob Mueller stepped up to keep the Midgets' season alive.
Mueller scored all 13 of his points in the final 1:41 of the fourth quarter and an overtime period as the Midgets came back to beat the Columbia Eagles 59-53 Monday in the Class 3A Waterloo Regional.
"I try to make plays, whether it is for other people or it is for me,'' Mueller said. "Whatever the team needs. I got some open looks and some good passes.''
Mueller hit a game-tying 3-pointer with 10 seconds left in regulation and then hit a 3-pointer at the start of the overtime.
"Jake has really come along,'' Freeburg coach T.J. Hoover said. "Some people think he's our most improved player since last year. He's really worked on his shooting over the summer and he's probably become our most consistent 3-point threat. We really hit a lull after he broke his foot against Wesclin, and he's still not 100 percent. But, gosh diggity, he hit two 3's for us at the end of regulaton and the start overtime, and that was huge for us. He hit some free throws down the stretch, too.''
The Midgets also got 13 points from Eric McDonald, 10 points from Dalton Crunk and eight points from Justin Diecker and Justin Livers.
The fifth-seeded Midgets (10-18) advance to play the top-seeded Cahokia Comanches (26-3) at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the semifinal round of the Waterloo Regional.
The Midgets have no preparation time for the high-powered Comanches.
"It might be better,'' Hoover said. "It's kind of the Band-Aid theory. Just rip that thing off and let's get going.''
The Eagles were led by Michael Hunsaker with 24 points, including a one-handed 3-pointer falling backwards near midcourt at the buzzer ending the first half, and Cole Foster with 16 points.
The Eagles, who ended their season with a 15-14, were playing without 6-foot-7 sophomore Jacob Wessel, who was out with an illness. They lost Hayden Landgraf to a torn ACL before the season started.
"Now if you would have told at the end of the season that we would go 15-14 and we would be 7-3 in a tough league when our best player tore his ACL three days before our first game, I'd be ecstatic,'' Eagles coach Mark Sandstrom said. "I told the kids, 'This one is going to hurt tonight, but overall your season ... we had a bunch of adversity and injuries, and we won a bunch of close games. Sometimes those close games even out, and tonight was one of those.''
The two teams split their four games this year.
"We went to OT twice,'' Hoover said. "They beat us on a shot with about 10 seconds to go at our place. We beat them by nine in the holiday tournmaent and they beat us by 10 last week. We're pretty evenly matched. Our kids get pretty fired up for the Columbia game.''
Diecker scored on a rebound basket and Dalton Crunk sank two free throws as the Midgets gained a 10-7 lead late in the first quarter.
The Eagles came back with a 17-2 run in the second quarter that included two 3-pointers by Hunsaker.
The Midgets cut their deficit to 25-18 when Griffin Diecker drove through the lane for a basket.
Hunsaker's acrobatic bomb at the buzzer sent the Eagles to the locker room with a 28-16 lead at halftime.
"We had a lot of momentum and we talked about coming out in the first two minutes (of the second half) and building on our lead,'' Sandstrom said. "We thought they might quit. The opposite came true. We only scored two points in third quarter, and it was a barn-burner from then on.''
The Eagles missed their first 11 shots of the second half as the Midgets climbed back within 28-25 on a 3-pointer by Nick Yung.
The Eagles broke out of their shooting slump with a rebound basket by Korbin Farmer, but the Midgets got a 3-pointer by Livers to close the gap to 30-28.
The Midgets tied the score at 30-30 as Diecker put back his own miss with 6:22 left in the fourth quarter.
The Eagles scored the next five points at the free-throw line to go up 35-30.
Foster scored twice inside, the second basket putting the Eagles ahead 39-32 with 2:34 to go.
The Midgets weren't done yet.
Jacob Mueller tossed in a 3-pointer and Crunk stole the ball and scored on a layup to get the Midgets within 39-37 with 1:25 remaining.
The Eagles got two free throws from Connor Mallinckrodt and Hunsaker to stay up 43-39.
McDonald scored inside with 41 seconds to get the Midgets within two.
Columbia's Adam Babb made one of his two free-throw attempts with 22 seconds remaining to set up Mueller's heroics.
"Their sophomore made some big shots,'' Sandstrom said. "He made a big one with about 12 seconds left. We have a rule, if it is eight seconds or later, foul. He took the shot way too soon. Give credit to him because he hit two big ones to put them back in the game.''
Another 3-pointer from Mueller and a basket by McDonald at the start of the overtime put the Midgets in control.
The Midgets went 8-for-10 from free-throw line in overtime to secure the win.
Contact reporter Steve Korte at email@example.com or 239-2522.