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12/28/2013 - HAC Boys Basketball: Simpson's Five Free Throws Lift North Star Past Grand Island

By Jeff Motz

Triston Simpson had seven points at halftime and didn't score again until the final minute of the game when it mattered.

The 6-0 Lincoln North Star sophomore guard sank five free throws late to help the Navigators edge Grand Island 46-43 Saturday night in the opening round of the Heartland Athletic Conference Boys Basketball Tournament at Lincoln Northeast's Ed Johnson Gym.

North Star will play Fremont in the Monday 7pm semifinal against Fremont, who used free throws to beat Lincoln Northeast 38-35.

Simpson hit two free throws to give the Gators a 42-41 lead with 52 seconds left.  Machoul Chol then scored on a layup to put Grand Island back up by one on the next possession.  Simpson was fouled again and hit two more free throws with 22 seconds left and iced the game with another pair of charity tosses after the Islanders missed two close range shots with less than five seconds to go.

In the game, North Star hit 12 free throws to Grand Island's one.

The Islanders, though, led 19-18 at halftime before both teams traded the lead early in the third quarter.  But North Star had a 32-27 lead with 3:51 left in the third quarter, when the Islanders went on an 8-0 run sparked by a Jake Morrow layup, and followed by a pair of baskets by Choul Biel and a layup from Pierce Almond.  

North Star senior guard Connor Musiel, who scored 10 of his team-high 13 points in the second half, hit a three-pointer to tie the game at 35 with 1:07 left in the third.

Chol led the Islanders with 14 points.

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