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On the floor in celebration! The Rushford-Peterson Trojans mass after earning a trip to state. They defeated Faribault-Bethlehem Academy 55-47 in the Section 1A title game, overcoming a 47-41 deficit with under five minutes left on the clock. It’s R-P’s seventh trip to state since 2000. Photo by Paul Trende
….Only to Awaken Sleeping Bears
By virtue of Kingsland’s win, they got 1-seeded Byron (22-5) for the 1AA West title. The first half was a lot Knights. Lange had 11 points, Eberle 6 steals, Byron 14 TO’s. Kingsland led 27-18 at the break. Their quick hands and inspired play roused the Bears from a mini-hibernation. The 2nd half was an entirely different story. Byron hit three 3’s in the first 5:00. They had four TO’s total. Without steals, Kingsland’s offense was hindered. By the 8:00 mark, Byron had the lead (34-33). They wouldn’t surrender it. The Bears hit 13 of 18 FT’s in the final 6:00, 23 of 31 for the game (to Kingsland’s 9 of 18). They out-muscled the Knights 55-48. Lange led the black and silver with 16 points. He also went over 1,000 for his career with a FT in the 1st half. Spencer Klevan had 14. Eberle had 7 assists and 8 steals. Byron’s Travis Smith was the biggest bruising-Bear. The 6’3” 200-plus pound senior had 20 points and 13 rebounds. Brady Fuchs added 11, Jack Nelson 10 and 7 rebounds. Kingsland’s great season ends at 20-9, the 1AA West runner-up. The run of the super-six seniors (Lange, Eberle, Klevan, Devin Pokorney, Soren Grandall, and Josh Thompson) ends. They were true iron-men throughout the season, a true team.
A Grinch Named Hinsch
In a big game, if one player goes off, if that player won’t be denied, if that player is hands down the best athlete on the court, his or her team is at a distinct advantage. To the chagrin of the Chatfield girls in their 1AA title game, the ‘player’ was Ashley Hinsch from Zumbrota-Mazeppa (16-10). The 5’9” senior G came into the game white-hot. She left still glowing. Things started great for Chatfield, up 10-2. Z-M then went on a 15-0 spurt. By halftime, the Gophers got the lead back, 27-24. Hinsch had 12 points. It was then back and forth until the 8:39 mark, when Hinsch nailed a three, giving Z-M a 40-37 edge. At that point, Cougar coach Scott Paukert had his team go into a stall. He dared Chatfield to come out of its vaunted zone. When they extended their ‘D,’ Hinsch attacked. She went on a pivotal 8-0 run from 6:22 to 2:41, putting her team ahead 50-41. All told, Hinsch scored 15 of Z-M’s final 19 points. She scored 19 in the second half, 31 for the game (10-12 FT’s). She was a grinch to Chatfield’s state hopes, and ended their season, 56-52. Gopher seniors Sarah Costello (10 pts, 8 rebs) and Erin Kammer (10 pts) fought their hearts out in their last game, fouling out because of their effort. Fellow senior Kyndra Neis hit her calling card, a three. The missing senior, Karen Sass (out for the season with a torn ACL), was in attendance, on the bench, cheering her team on like every other game; a show of class, maturity, and loyalty. MaKenzie Miller and Sidney Irish also had 10 for the Gophers, who finish a great season with a 21-8 record, Section 1AA runner-ups. They’ll lose three senior on-court contributors. They’ll fight another (big) day.
The Inevitable Re-Match
In December, they met. A Nick Thompson three with 0:02 proved the 66-63 difference. It wasn’t hard then to imagine they’d meet again. Both had come into, then out of, and then back into, the Class 1A rankings as the season evolved. Both entered their 1A East title contest ranked. The #8 Rushford-Peterson Trojans (22-5) took on the #9 Spring Grove Lions (25-2) for a spot in the 1A final. The game lived up to the hype. It built on December’s meeting. R-P built a 30-27 halftime lead, then led the entire 2nd half, at one point (3:26) by 10, 59-49. Cue the Lion’s comeback. They scored 12 of the final 14 points of regulation, including big 3’s by Eli Gleason (0:41) and Jake Kraus. The later tied the game at 61 (0:14). The Trojans had the last shot, but got up nothing constructive, sending the game to OT. There, R-P resumed control. Sophomore Jorli Hauge had their only two FG’s. The second gave R-P a 66-61 edge. Nick Thompson sank four FT’s in the final 0:20. Each set stoked R-P’s lead from two to four. Tom Vix’s boys withstood the Lions’ relentless effort, prevailing 71-66. Nick T did work from everywhere, scoring a game-high 33 points. Trent Vix tallied 11 points and assists. Hauge had 14. Blaine Storlie (20 pts, including six 3’s) and 2,000-point scorer Aric Elton (20 pts, 9 rebs) led SG. Elton and company were beasts on the offensive glass (17 OR’s for 19 2nd-chance points). R-P didn’t have to rebound their misses. They were an outstanding 20-32 on 2’s, 6-13 on 3’s, a sweltering 58% total. G shot 36%. The Trojans move on to play 1A West champion Faribault-B.A. SG finishes at 25-3, twice beaten by R-P.
03-06 Sub-Section 1A East Semifinals
•5-seed Houston 56, 1-seed R-P 73 (R-P: N. Thompson 24 pts & 8 rebs; Nate Kinglsey 12 pts & 5 rebs; T. Vix 8 pts and 8 assists; Seth Thompson 9. H: Hans Lundberg 14 pts and 12 rebs; Josh Vix 12 Trojans cruised-controlled their way to win, building a 34-25 halftime lead that the ‘Canes never threatened. The contest featured 58 foul shots)
•3-seed Fillmore Central 61, 2-seed SG 73 (FC: Tyler Eickhoff 22; Dan Gatzke 10 pts and 8 rebs; Ryan Mayer 9 pts, 7 rebs, and 5 blks. SG: J. Kraus 21; A. Elton 13 pts and 6 rebs; E. Gleason 13; Josh Olerud 10. Falcons led 34-28 at half. Lions came out of break with 17-2 run, took 45-36 lead. FC battled back to lead 53-50. They led 55-54, but Kraus hit 3 three’s in the span of 2:00. They were a part of a 12-2 Lion run that put SG in the lead 66-57 with 3:35 left, nailing it down. TO’s: FC 24, SG 7. FT’s: FC 7 of 12, SG 15 of 31. Falcons end the season 9-19)
Sub-Section 1AA East Semifinals
•5-seed Chatfield 58, 1-seed Plainview-Elgin-Millville 76 (C: Jake Peterson 13. PEM: Beau Nelson 19; Sam Ruth 17; Cory Speer 10. Gophers finish season with 10-17 record)