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East Beasts

Fri, Mar 15th, 2013
Posted in All Sports

A man possessed. Rushford-Peterson’s Seth Thompson shows a face of determination as he closes out defensively on Lanesboro’s Kole Ruud. Thompson was a determined beast (29 pts, 7 rebs, 4 assists, 4 stls) in leading the Trojans to a Sub-Section 1A game win over the Burros, 76-65. Photo by Paul Trende

Waiting For the Inevitable

It just seems to happen, probably all too often for non-Trojan fans. An opponent tests the Rushford-Peterson boys, usually early on, and then presto. R-P forces some turnovers. They score in bunches. Next thing you know, the Trojans are (comfortably) in front. The test is over. The game is over, R-P victorious. In December, Chatfield led 33-20 at the half. The Trojans then hit 8 of 13 three-pointers in the second half to prevail 67-56. In January, Lewiston-Altura held a 30-25 lead at the intermission. Over the final 7:00, the Trojans ‘D’ relinquished exactly 0 points. R-P prevailed 51-44. In February, the Lanesboro Burros were still in it at the half, trailing 44-34. And then wham, R-P ripped off a 28-1 run and it was over; final score R-P 83, Lanesboro 55.

With a spot in the Sub-Section 1A East finals hanging in the balance, upstart 4-seed Fillmore Central (7-20) tested top-seeded, #7 in state R-P (23-3). The Falcons two vertically gifted studs, 6’2” junior F Nick Powell and 6’3” senior F Dan Gatzke exploited the smaller Trojans on the inside. Powell scored 10 points and had 7 rebounds in the first half, Gatzke 9 points and 5 rebounds. Aaron Janssen’s Falcons played Tom Vix’s Trojans tough for 18:00 and went to halftime trailing by just four, 27-23. FC was testing R-P. The test continued for a few minutes into the 2nd stanza. R-P led 37-32 with 13:00 to go. And then bam; the Trojans scored on 9 of 11 possessions. A 22 to 8 run was the result. The last points were back-to-back Charlie Krambeer 3-pointers (his 5th and 6th of the night). They pushed the Trojan advantage to 59-40 with 6:45 to go. It was over. The Trojans moved into another 1A East title game with a 65-47 victory.

Young deadeyed Krambeer led the way. The sharp-shooting sophomore continues to be a integral offensive asset for the Trojans, his high-lofting soft-touched triples finding their home more oft than not. Six of ten were true versus the Falcons, for 18 of Krambeer’s game-high 20 points. He is R-P’s ‘shooter.’ Senior Phil O’Shaughnessy came off the Trojan bench and made an impact. O’Shaughnessy, a ‘driver’, gave the Trojans another offensive asset, one who doesn’t make his living from deep. He had 13 points and 3 steals. Cole Kingsley, the ‘athletic passer’, scored 11 and dished out 9 assists. Austin O’Hare chipped in 11 points and Jorli Hauge 11 rebounds. The R-P ‘D’ forced FC into 23 turnovers. For the Falcons, senior Gatzke went out leading the Falcons in scoring. The powerful high-rising forward had 19 on 8 for 9 shooting (only miss a 3-pointer in the second half). Powell, an athletic junior, finished with 14 points (7 of 12 shooting) and 10 rebounds. FC shot a better percentage from the field than R-P (50 to 42), but the Trojans got off 19 more shots. They made 24 of 57 attempts to FC’s 19 of 38. The Falcons season ends at 7-21.

Rubber Match

The 2012-2013 SEC boy’s basketball season was all about two teams, Lanesboro and Spring Grove. They split the season series, SG winning 67-62 in early January, Lanes winning 79-68 in early February. Had it not been for a Lyle/Pacelli win over the Burros in their season finale, the teams would’ve tied atop the SEC-East, the SEC. As it were SG finished first (17-1), Lanesboro second (16-2). Lanesboro (18-7) was granted the 2-seed, however, and SG (21-6) the 3-seed in Sub-Section 1A-East. It thus was only fitting they met up one more time, a spot in the Sub-Section title game (versus R-P) hanging in the balance.

The game had two pivotal runs, both by Lanesboro. The first came midway thru the 1st half. Leading 19-17, the Burros scored on five straight possessions. Naturally, per their nature, three of those five baskets were 3-pointers. The 13-3 spurt put Lanesboro up 32-20. The lead was 10, 38-28, at halftime and Burro junior Kole Ruud was dynamic, scoring a mere four points less than Spring Grove’s entire team. Ruud had 24 points in the first 18 minutes. The second big run came right out of the halftime gate. Lanesboro scored on 5 of their first 6 possessions. They made 6 of their first 7 shots; all while Spring Grove went 1 for 8. The Burros turned a 10-point halftime edge into a 24-point lead (54-30) with a 16-2 run. Even down big, Spring Grove didn’t quit, not at all. A 9-2 Lion run cut Lanes’ lead to 56-41. A few minutes later, SG forced TO’s on six straight Burro possessions. The Lion defense was ferocious. Lanesboro struggled to just inbound the basketball. The SG offense was tamer than a newborn closed-eye kitten. They went 0-7 from the field in that span and moved no closer, despite all of the Burros miscues. Fifteen was as close as Spring Grove got, though their second half pressure defense forced the Burros into 14 TO’s. Lanesboro shot 23 FT’s down the stretch, making 16. With six guys playing a large majority of the minutes, John Smith’s boys downed a hard working, never quitting, Lions squad 80-59.

Ruud had a ‘pedestrian’ 12-point second half to bring his nightly total to ‘measly’ 36. He was nearly perfect everywhere but two-point range (5 of 5 from deep, 11 of 12 from the line). Senior G Erik Peterson, who lit up SG for 29 points on 9 of 12 deep shooting the second time they played, had 21 points and 8 rebounds. He was 7 of 10 from the charity stripe. He also handled the inbounding and much of the ball handling, making good use of his track/cross-country stamina. The third member of Burro-triad, Luke Rogers, had 10 and 8 rebounds. For the second time this season, Lion senior Josh Olerud feasted on Lanesboro. The first time they met, he had career highs in points (27) and rebounds (11). In the Sub-Section semis, he paced SG with 21 points and 10 rebounds. Freshman Alex Engelhardt was the only other Lion in double figures. He had 12. Lanesboro shot better than 50% from two-point range (54.8), three-point range (53.3), and (naturally) the field (54.3). SG was 40% (2’s), 25.7% (3’s), and 32.3% (FG’s). The Lions weren’t the only team playing ‘D’. The Burros held SG leading scorer Blaine Storlie to just six (he had 15 and 21 in their other two meetings). They cut-off the Lions dribble-drive and forced them into a litany of long-range shots (35 to be exact), which weren’t true (9 makes, for the 25.7% stat).

East Beasts

It’s not a secret. To win the boys 1A-East crown, one has to go through Tom Vix’s Rushford-Peterson Trojans (#1 seed, 24-3). Over the past ten years (2012-2013 included), the Trojans are 27-2 in Sub-Section 1A East play-off games. That is seven titles and two runners up. R-P’s opponent for the 2012-2013 1A-East title game, Lanesboro (#2 seed, 19-7), played the Trojans in four other title games in that span (2004, 2005, 2007, 2010), losing all four. Burro coach John Smith has had to game plan against the Trojan machine (probably) all too often. His 2013 game plans probably didn’t include putting the defensive clamps on Trojan junior guard Seth Thompson.

Until March 9th 2013, Seth was firmly in the shadow of his 2012 graduate older brother Nick, a 1,000-point career scorer, leading scorer on the Trojans 2011-2012 state 3rd place team, and a kid Coach Vix called ‘probably the best pure perimeter shooter I’ve ever coached.’ Seth T, a starter this season, and part-time starter a year ago, entered the Sub-Section final with Lanesboro averaging around 7.0 PPG. His best performance of the 2012-2013 season had been a 16-point, 8-rebound, 5-assist effort in Preston versus Fillmore Central. His worst performance of the year had also been against Fillmore Central, in the Sub-Section semifinals; he had 0 points, 0 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 turnovers, 2 fouls.

Evidently, the notion of stepping out of his brother’s shadow, and/or avenging a lackluster performance, were motivating factors for the 6’2” junior. Thompson had the game of his life (thus far) against the Burros in the Sub-Section finals. He came out aggressive, inspired; even possessed. He scored the game’s first three points and helped force a number of Burro turnovers with his defense. Midway through the half, he played a part of a 13-3 Trojan run that put distance between R-P and Lanesboro (23-12). To end the half, Thompson scored eight of the eleven points of an 11-1 R-P run. At the intermission, the Trojans led 40-24. In a battle of teams that sometimes, or all the time, love the 3-pointer; R-P was winning 10 of 25 to 5 of 14. Austin O’Hare had four of those makes, Thompson three. Thompson also already had a season high 17 points.

The Trojans kept it up in the second half. R-P built a 65-43 lead with 6:00 left. Lanesboro, behind senior guard Erik Peterson’s never-say-die attitude, kept shooting away, scoring away. They put up 22 points in the final 5:22, but the game was already decided. Thompson’s career-game, the Trojan ‘D’, which forced 24 Burros TO’s, and Austin O’Hare’s side-kicking performance meshed together to allow R-P to claim its 4th straight Sub-Section 1A East title. The final was 76-65.

On the Lanesboro side of things, Peterson ended his standout career fighting until the end, accepting big hugs from his teammates on his way off the floor. The 5’8” senior played a lot bigger than his stature (in the game, and throughout the season) in scoring 25 points and grabbing 9 rebounds. He made seven of fifteen 3-pointers, many from near NBA range. Junior Kole Ruud added 18 tough points with 5 rebounds. The Burros, who live from deep and typically beat teams from there, were 11 of 31 from 3-point range. R-P was 11 of 29. Lanesboro’s season ends at 19-8, as Sub-Section 1A-East runners-up.

On the R-P side of things, Thompson’s 29-point night (4-6 three-point shooting, 3-4 FT’s, and 11-18 total FG’s, 7 rebs, 4 assists, 4 stls) was best offensive performance by a Trojan player this season. In fact, it was only the 5th time a Trojan player has scored 20 or more in game. Austin O’Hare notched the 6th time by scoring 21 points (4-10 three’s, 5-5 FT’s). This is a vast departure from last season when Nick Thompson averaged 20-plus per game, and Trent Vix also could easily post the 20-plus in a contest. However, R-P has six players (Thompson, O’Hare, Jorli Hauge, Alex Vix, Charlie Krambeer, and Cole Kingsley) who’ve scored in double figures at least seven times on the season. They are something they weren’t a season ago, balanced. In conjunction with their frenetic defense, that makes them scary. The fact that all six of the above players are either juniors or sophomores makes them scarier. The Trojans move on to defend their Section title. They’ll play 1A-West champion Blooming Prairie (18-9).

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