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Smith tops 1,000

Fri, Jan 6th, 2012
Posted in Sports

What Mabel-Canton senior center Steve Smith does on the court isn't necessarily flashy. There are no three-pointers, pull-up jump shots, or dipsy-do drives to the lane. He isn't the new age big-man, or more likely to gravitate to the perimeter versus to the block. He is pretty much old school, a throwback to the days when post players were post players. He sets up in close, gets the ball in close, and then uses his 6'3" 245-pound frame, good hands, and soft touch, to execute short turn-arounds, drop-steps, and baby-hooks with tremendous effectiveness. He hasn't been stopped too often in the last two years. He's been so effective that on December 27, in a WSU holiday tournament contest versus Mt. Horeb Wisconsin, Smith became the fifth Mabel-Canton male basketball player to eclipse 1,000 career points, joining Andy Dahlen, Quinton Sand, Matt Garness, and Heath Olson. Eclipsing the points-threshold is the second big mark Steve has surpassed in less than two weeks. On December 19th, in an SEC contest versus Hope Lutheran, he became M-C's all-time leading rebounder (surpassing his brother Joe coincidentally). His coach, Doug Wyffels, gives him nothing but praise, "Steve is an A-student, a classy young man on and off the court. He is a vocal leader in practice and during games."

It probably helps he's been a varsity contributor for four years. Steve's freshmen totals weren't much (3.0 PPG, 2.0 RPG), but he became an integral piece to the M-C puzzle as a sophomore (8.1 PPG, 6.5 RPG). Last year (his junior season), he became the focal point (22.9 PPG, 11.2 RPG) and that continues into his senior campaign (21 points and 12 rebounds over the first nine games). His teammates always look for him. They sometimes end up with as many assists (to Steve) as points. The M-C boys ship isn't just tied to Steve. It pretty much is Steve (from an offensive perspective). Against conference foes, that ship is sailing pretty well. The Cougars are 4-1 and right in thick of things in the SEC. They might not bring home the conference crown, but nobody, not Spring Grove, Houston, or Lanesboro (the Coug's main adversaries) wants to, or can, contend with M-C's big-man in the middle.

Might We Meet Again?

Nine of 12 Fillmore County boys and girls basketball teams played in holiday tournament contests. A quick look at the scheduling and it was fairly obvious the marquee match-up pitted two splendid 1A teams, the Rushford-Peterson and Spring Grove boys, against each other on day two of the Caledonia Warrior Invitational. Five hundred and seven win coach Tom Vix leads R-P, southeastern Minnesota's small school basketball darling. Their gymnasium walls are littered with section and state banners from over the past couple decades (and change). Senior Nick Thompson is their 20-plus-point-per-game to-go guy, though senior point guard Trent Vix is certainly no slouch. They entered with a 5-2 record. They might not win the Three Rivers, but they'll be near the top at the end. The Lions are in the midst of a very good run by a sound group of juniors and seniors. A year ago on the basketball court, they finished second in the SEC. Two months ago, they won the conference football (9-man) crown before advancing to the state quarterfinals. Aric Elton is their senior 20-point-per-game stud. They boast a 6-1 record, enough for a #10 ranking in the state Class A polls. They're the SEC favorite. All the ingredients were there for an after Christmas basketball feast. The meal turned out quite tasty. Early on, it was all about defensive intensity. Both teams pressed liberally and effectively. Turnovers were abundant. By halftime, R-P had 16 giveaways, Spring Grove 12. Though the Lions led by as many as seven very early (11-4), an 8-3 spurt to end the half by the Trojans put them on top 27-24 at the intermission. Offensive glasswork was a catalyst. The Trojans turned nine caroms into nine second-chance points (versus SG's 3 into 2). In the second half, the defensive intensity either lapsed, both squads settled down, finding solutions to the presses, or varying degrees of both. Nate Kingsley, the Trojans 6'1" senior forward, reaped the whirlwind of R-P's press break. He and Seth Thompson (Nick's younger brother) scored the Trojan's first 14 second-half points. The Trojans held seven-point leads twice (35-28, 37-30). Spring Grove's response, in large part, was Blaine Storlie. After going zero-for the scoring column in the first 18 minutes, the 5'9" junior guard made up for lost time in the second 18 minutes. His third bucket of the half knotted the score at 41-41 with 11:23 remaining. The Lions held a five-point advantage (53-48) with 6:18 remaining, but R-P responded with a 5-0 run. At the 3:01 mark, a back-and-forth game was knotted at 57 apiece. Six points later, all scored by green and golder's, Spring Grove was in a dire situation, down 63-57, with 1:05 remaining, without the ball. R-P then missed the front end of a one-and-one. Josh Olerud splashed down a three with 45 ticks left, cutting the R-P lead in half. The Trojans then missed the front end of another one-and-one, leaving Storlie to bank-and-splash another Lions triple, his fourth trifecta of the second half. With 22 seconds remaining, it was Trojans 63, Lions 63 (the game's 8th tie). Out of a timeout, R-P held for the last shot. Trent Vix appeared to be the one destined to take it, likely via an off-the-dribble maneuver, but a drive to the hoop found congestion at the free throw line. With around five-to-go, he passed it to a pretty good second option. Just off center of the top of key, Nick Thompson received the ball and let fly. Against Lewiston-Altura a few weeks ago, he was in a similar (game-winning) situation and the ball couldn't find its home. Against Spring Grove, the ball was ready to go to bed for the night. It found nothing but nylon with two ticks left on the clock. The Lions couldn't formulate an attack in those precious seconds. R-P, in dramatic fashion, will usher in the New Year happily with a 66-63 victory. After a modest nine points in the game's first 31 minutes, Nick T scored 12 (of R-P's final 16) in the final five (on 5-6 shooting, 2-2 at the line). He finished with a game high 21. Nate Kingsley had a career-high 17, making 8 of 9 shots (from a combined 17 feet). Trent Vix scored 12, had 9 assists, and 5 rebounds, all while carrying most of the weight of breaking the Lion's press. SG's big weapon, Aric Elton, was consistent throughout, tallying 19. Blaine Storlie scored 16 points, all in the second half, on 6 of 9 shooting (including 4-6 from deep). Josh Olerud gave SG a boost off the bench with 12. After a turnover-laden first half, the teams combined for just nine in the second. They shot lights-out. R-P was 16 of 27 from the field in (4 of 8 from range). Spring Grove was 14 of 29 (6 of 12 from range). The two teams won't play each other in the regular season, but look destined for a Sub-Section 1A tournament contest, possibly the in final (though Goodhue will have something to say about that). R-P has won five straight and improves to 6-2 overall.

BBB (All Holiday Tournament Games)


•Mabel-Canton 54, Mt. Horeb WI 45 (M-C: Steve Smith 18 pts & 7 rebs, becomes 5th player in M-C history to record 1,000 career points; Jacoby Bigalk 8 pts & 8 ass. MH: Josh Bollig 16. Rebs: M-C 18, MH 24. TO's: M-C 16, MH 11. Winona State University Tourney)


•Rushford-Peterson 49, La Crescent 37 (R-P: T. Vix 16 pts & 5 ass; N. Thompson 14. LC: Zach Melbostad 15. Trojans were 5 of 22 from behind the arc. Caledonia Tourney)


•Lanesboro 63, St. Charles 75 (L: Braden Hanson 17; Cory Strom 15 pts, 6 rebs, 5 ass; Erik Peterson 14. SC: Will Swiggum 25 pts & 13 rebs; Aaron Leistikow 15. Score was 58-55 at the 3-minute mark. Saints made 13 FT's from there on in (19 of 28 total to the Burros 6-6). Burros made 15 of 35 3-pointers (43%). St. Charles Tourney)

•M-C 47, Goodhue 48 (M-C: S. Smith 15 pts, 16 rebs, & 4 blks; J. Bigalk 10; Adam Fravel 8 pts & 6 rebs. G: Michael McNamara 15; Jacob Staehli 14. Coug's out-shot Wildcats from field (34.9% to 28.0%), from the line (15 of 19 to 17 of 26), won the rebounding battle (39 to 28), but lost the turnover battle (25 to 14). They were down three in the waning seconds, but could only get two points. Goodhue is 4-2 including handing Class A #10 Spring Grove its first loss. Cougars are 4-1 in SEC, 4-5 overall. WSU Tourney)

•Chatfield 57, Annandale 73 (Annandale Tourney)


•Lanesboro 80, Dover-Eyota 63 (L: B. Hanson 23 pts, 6 rebs, 3 stls; C. Strom 17 pts, 6 rebs, 4 stls; E. Peterson 16; Kole Ruud 12 off the bench. D-E: Bryan Halverson 15; Nate Vang 12. Lanes led 37-31 at half, scored first six points of second stanza and then never saw lead dip into single digits. They made 11 of 22 three-pointers. They made 26 total long-range jacks in two games in St. Charles. Record is 4-0, 5-2 overall)

•Chatfield 67, Foley 56 (Gophers end five-game skid, boost record to 2-4, 3-7 overall. Annandale Tournament)

GBB (All Holiday Tournament Games)


•Rushford-Peterson 57, La Crescent 65 (R-P: Amy Todd 20 pts on 8-12 FG's, 4-4 FT's, 8 rebs; Kendra Crawford 15; Kenzie Lind 7 pts, 11 rebs, 7 ass. LC: Jen Michalke 21; Katie Waller 19. R-P was 17-20 on FT's and beat Lancers on glass 41 to 26 but committed 29 TO's to the Lancers 19. Spring Grove Tourney)

•Lanesboro 55, Cochrane-Fountain City 66 (L: Paige Hungerholt 12; Bryn Harmon 11. Burros trailed 41-14 at break but fought back to cut lead to 10 at 7:00 mark. Got no closer. WSU Tourney)

•Kingsland 43, Austin 56 (K: Cheyenne Losey 15 pts, 8 rebs, 4 stls. FT's: King 13-28, Austin 4-10. 3's: King 4-21, Austin 2-11. Rebs: King 36, Austin 42. Albert Lea Tourney)

•Mabel-Canton 28, St. Francis WI 35 (M-C: Lydia Geving 11 pts & 4 stls. St. Francis led by 12 at halftime. Coug's got to within five in the final minute but no closer. WSU Tourney)


•Kingsland 59, Spectrum (Elk River) 20 (K: C. Losey 13 pts, 7 rebs, 4 ass, 5 stls; Lindsay Tart 11 pts, 5 assists, 5 stls; Nicole Swanson 7 pts, 10 rebs, 8 blks. Halftime: 33-12. Knights are 3-2, 7-4. Albert Lea Tourney)

•Chatfield 42, St. Francis WI 18 (C: MaKenzie Miller 10 pts & 6 rebs. Gophers led the entirety. WSU Tourney)


•R-P 50, #4 in A Spring Grove 64 (R-P: Kenzie Lind 13 pts, 15 rebs, 7 assists, 6 stls. A. Todd 14. SG: Richell Mehus 25 pts & 11 rebs; Taylor Elton 12. Game was 34-31 Lions at the half. Trojans stayed within low single digits until late. TO's: R-P 27, SG 17. R-P's record stands at 2-6, 2-8 overall. Spring Grove Tourney)

•Chatfield 49, Mabel-Canton 6 (C: M. Miller 12. 2-point FG's: Chat 19-33, M-C 2-22. Chatfield is 4-2, 7-4; M-C is 2-4, 2-7. WSU Tourney)

•Lanesboro 37, Lewiston-Alutra 47 (L: B. Harmon 11. Game was tied at 35 before L-A ended on a 12-2 run. Cards beat up Burros on boards. Burros are 5-1, 5-6 overall. WSU Tourney)

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