It was a miserable way for Luke Reigel to see the season end Saturday night.
But what a season it was for his UW-Parkside men’s basketball team.
The third-seeded Rangers lost to seventh-seeded Grand Valley State 55-53 on a buzzer-beater in the semifinals of the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. The game was played at the Davenport University Student Center in Caledonia, Mich.
Jeremiah Ferguson, who went just 4 for 15 from the floor, made a baseline fadeaway jumper as time expired for the winning basket. It’s a shot that’s likely to haunt Reigel for a long time.
“We had two months straight of close games and sometimes the bounces go your way and sometimes they don’t,” said Reigel, whose team defeated Grand Valley State 80-79 Feb. 9 at Allendale, Mich. “They got the ball with 50 seconds left, we played perfect defense, forced a terrible shot and then the ball took a terrible bounce and they got it back.
“We played perfect defense for the next 30 seconds, their best player (Hunter Hale) is literally falling down in the middle of the lane and almost throws it out of bounds. And a kid who was 3 for 14 throws up a shot, it hits the rim four times and it goes in. He hit it from almost behind the backboard from 17 feet away.”
“It just wasn’t meant to be. We battled, we did everything we could on the defensive end and we just came up a little short, unfortunately.”
Still, it was a successful season for the Rangers (16-12), who were just 9-19 last season in the aftermath of sanctions placed on Parkside’s athletic program by the Great Lakes Valley Conference. Parkside left the GLVC after last season.
And Reigel almost brought his team to the GLIAC championship. Parkside took a 26-21 halftime lead, but Grand Valley State (18-12) came back behind Hale, who scored 13 of his 19 points in the second half.
Chavares Flanigan and Adam Bonk, who each played their final college game, each scored 13 points while Brandon Trimble added 10 for Parkside.
“I couldn’t be more proud of our whole group,” Reigel said. “But our three seniors (Bonk, Flanigan and Bret Barclay) are high-character kids. They have given us everything we’ve asked over their entire careers.”
Grand Valley State will play Davenport Sunday in the championship. With Davenport still ineligible as a second-year program, Grand Valley State earned the GLIAC’s automatic bid by making it to Sunday’s game.