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Trojan boys take second at state


Fri, Mar 21st, 2014
Posted in All Sports

After back-to-back state appearances, and back-to-back third place finishes, with their top six players returning off the 2012-2013 squad, the 2013-2014 Rushford-Peterson’s boys’ basketball season, for all intents and purposes, finally began after defeating Goodhue in the Section 1A final. There is no doubt seniors Jorli Hauge, Seth Thompson, and Austin O’Hare, and juniors Cole Kingsley, Alex Vix, and Charlie Krambeer, had anticipated a return to Minnesota’s prep big-dance all season long. Once they got there, they did what the Trojans do and won. They exorcised one demon, but fell just short of being Class A basketball saints.

Quick Start Leads R-P Past ACGC

The past two seasons, the Trojans (29-1, 3-seed in state tourney) have been money in the state quarterfinals at Williams Arena, beating Prairie Seeds Academy (2012) and Lakeview Christian (2013). The 2014 state experience started similarly. R-P got off to a good start versus Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City (21-7, Section 2A Champs). Austin O’Hare, Cole Kingsley, and Alex Vix each nailed three-pointers in the opening 2:30, giving the Trojans a 9-0 lead. Rushford-Peterson would lead the duration. ACGC got within one a trio of times midway through the first half. The intermission score was 34-31. Three and a half minutes into the second half, the Trojans led 42-37 only to expand that lead with a 7-1 run (49-38). ACGC got as close as five (58-53) with 6:31 left, but R-P answered with a game-clinching 7-0 run. They boasted their biggest lead (65-53) with 4:51 left and prevailed by a final of 71-63. Kingsley led the way. The junior point guard scored 11 of his 18 points in the first half (8-11 FG’s, 4 rebs, 3 assists). O’Hare hit four of seven three-pointers and tallied 14 points (5-10 FG) to go along with 5 assists. Jorli Hauge posted a double-double (13 pts, 10 rebs, 3 assists) while also being efficient from the field (5-7 FG’s). Seth Thompson and Alex Vix each added 8 points. Both teams shot well; R-P 27-51 (52.9%), ACGC 24-47 (51.1%). The Trojans held an edge from lost distance; 8-20 (40%) to 3-18 (16.7%). ACGC was 1-10 in the second half. R-P forced the Falcons into 21 miscues (the Trojans had 12) which led to a critical 23 to 10 edge in points off turnovers. In a harbinger of things to come, the Falcons won the glass battle 33 to 22. They were led by 6’4” freshman center Gabriel Eisenbacher (18 pts, 7-8 FG’s, 7 rebs). Senior guard, and leading scorer at 22 points per game, Taylor Larson, was held below his average (15 pts on 6-15 shooting). Sophomore forward Colton Minnick added 13 pts (6-10 FG’s) and junior point guard Brody Larson 7 points, 7 rebounds, and 7 assists.

Down to the Wire with MCA

Each of the past two seasons, the Trojans have fallen in the state semifinals. Last year, it was to Maranatha Christian Academy, 61-46. The two teams met in the same spot this year, with R-P extracting a bit of revenge on the Mustangs (26-3, Section 4A champs). They punched through to the state title game. It wasn’t without a lot of nail-biting and a near buzzer-beating finish. The Trojans again started quickly, 11-3. MCA’s offense struggled to solve R-P’s defense early. The Trojans would build a 24-10 first half advantage, courtesy of an O’Hare three-pointer at the 3:44 mark. At the half, courtesy of a Kingsley shot just before the buzzer, R-P led 29-19. The Mustang’s offensive effort noticeably picked up in the second half. They made a run keyed by guard Damario Armstrong. After missing their first three shots, and falling behind 33-19, MCA then made four straight and 7 of 12 total field goals. Armstrong found senior guard Josh Goldschmidt for the last of those makes at the 9:41 mark to culminate a 10-1 MCA run. It trimmed the Trojan lead to just 40-38. It was the beginning of an alternating set of surges. R-P staved off the spurt by scoring the next four points (44-38), only for MCA to surge again with six straight points to make it 44-44 with 5:16 left. R-P then got a three-point play from Kingsley. A possession later, Jorli Hauge blew a bunny, but rebounded his miss and redeemed himself. The 5-0 Trojan run gave R-P a 49-44 lead with 3:01 left. MCA then went 7-2, getting a couple free throws, an Armstrong lay-up, and then another Armstrong to Goldschmidt 3-pointer. With 1:50, the game stood tied at 51. On R-P’s next possession, Kingsley drove strongly, his calling card, but missed a lay-up. O’Hare used every inch of his slender 6’4” frame to rebound the miss and put it back in. It gave the Trojans a 53-51 lead with 1:26 remaining. The stretch run was as dramatic as it was scoreless. On the ensuing possession, MCA got two cracks at the tie (misses) before R-P cleared the rebound (0:36). O’Hare (a 74% FT shooter) was eventually fouled (0:20), but he missed the front end of a one-and-one. The Mustangs came down and Goldschmidt then got two cracks at the tie or lead. He missed a mid-range jumper, but rebounded his miss only to leave a quick put-back basket short. R-P again cleared (0:06) and was fouled. Jorli Hauge (a 65% FT shooter) then missed the front-end of a one-and-one. In the final five seconds, MCA got the ball up the court and Goldschmidt launched a fading game-winning three from the wing with O’Hare in his face. It was no good. Armstrong had a desperation offensive rebound put-back (that may or may not have counted) that also couldn’t connect. O’Hare’s basket at the 1:26 mark thus proved the winner. R-P moved the Class A title game with a thrilling 53-51 win over MCA. O’Hare (14 pts, 4-6 FG’s, 4-5 FT’s) and Kingsley (13 pts, 6-9 FG’s, 8 rebs) led the R-P charge. Alex Vix added 9 and Hauge 8. R-P again shot well, 21-41 (51.2%). They made a concerted effort to get close-in looks that netted them a 34-16 points-in-the-paint advantage. MCA made 18 of 45 FG’s (40%). R-P also won the turnover battle (12 to 8; 8 to 2 in the first half). They again were out-rebounded 29 to 21. They also got beat from deep, as MCA went 7-16 (43.8%) from range, R-P 3-12 (25%). The Mustangs were led by Goldschmidt (13 pts all in the second half, 3-6 three’s, 5 rebs), Armstrong (12 pts, 3 assists), and Jake Meyen (11 pts). Jeremiah Hanson, MCA’s leading scorer at 24 points per game, netted just seven (3-11 FG’s).

No Holding Down Goodwin and B-B-E

After back-to-back state games of holding an opponent’s top scorer in check, and surviving being on the wrong end of the rebounding battle (a height disparity), those two things, in combination with a slow start and a rough finish, finally conspired to spell R-P’s demise. In their state title battle of 30-win 1-loss teams with Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa (#1 in state, 30-1, only loss to AAAA Apple Valley), R-P (31-1) spotted the Jaguars an 11-0 lead. The Trojans frenziedly rallied, and at halftime had erased the deficit and then some. They led 25-21. In the second half, Jaguar senior forward James Kuefler attacked from the high post, netting eight of B-B-E’s first nine points. His last field goal tied the game at 30. Then Jaguar senior guard Brian Goodwin, a 2,000-point scorer and Mr. Basketball finalist, took over. After a solid 10 point first half, he scored 13 straight points for B-B-E through the middle part of the stanza. At the 6:30 mark, Jorli Hauge authored a bucket that tied the game at 39. It was R-P’s last field goal. B-B-E finished the game on a 13-1 run to win the 2014 Class A state title game by a final of 52-40. Junior guards Vix (12 pts) and Kingsley (11 pts, 4 rebs) led R-P. O’Hare added 7 points and 6 rebounds. That trio was named to the All-Tournament team. The Trojan defense couldn’t hold down Goodwin. He finished with a game-high 24 points (10-15 FT’s), 10 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 steals. Kueffler scored all 10 of his points in the second half while adding 9 rebounds. Billy Borgerding added 9 points and 7 rebounds. B-B-E critically out-rebounded R-P 42-20. They played seven guys, five 6’2” or better; Goodwin (6’4”), Kuefler (6’4”), Borgerding (6’7”), Nick Benton (6’4”), and Trey Heinsius (6’2”). Their size made things difficult all the way around for the Trojans, who played just one post player (the versatile 6’4” Hauge). Passing lanes were condensed. The windows to get shots up in the lane and on the perimeter were smaller. Clearing a defensive rebound was a chore; 19 of B-B-E’s rebounds were offensive. As Coach Tom Vix put it, his team was ‘vertically challenged.’ The foul situation didn’t help R-P either (19 to 11 in B-B-E’s favor). Thus, there was a free throw discrepancy (B-B-E 15-24, R-P 7-15). Most critically, Kingsley, R-P’s best play-maker, picked up his fourth with 9:05 left. The student section even brought out the ‘we want Marshall!’ chant, a reference to Rochester area official Marshall Behrens. But in an extra aggressive, scratch-and-claw game for all the marbles, the officials were also scratching and clawing (to call the game as best they could). R-P got bested by a bigger team and a star player who took over.

The Dynasty Lives On

The tough loss obviously stung, particularly for senior three-year players (starters) Jorli Hauge, Austin O’Hare, and Seth Thompson. But a 31-2 record, a conference title, and a state runner-up, all in one season, are major accomplishments. Moreover, in each year of their careers from sophomore to senior, the trio helped set a new record for wins by an R-P team (26-6 to 28-4 to 31-2). They, and the rest of the senior class (Ryan Ruberg, Ross Anderson, Tyler McLellan, and Hudson Stensgard), posted a three-year cumulative 85-12 record (an 87.6 winning percentage). They have two state third place medals and a state runner-up medal. Only players from Minneapolis-DeLaSalle (three straight state titles) can boast more impressive collective hardware. R-P and the Islanders are the only two squads to finish top three in state the past three years. Going forward, the Trojans look to make it four straight. With Kingsley, Vix, Charlie Krambeer, and Noah Carlson, Jacob Merchlewitz, Kyler Paulson, and Zach Vix, plus players off an undefeated B-squad (and of course the R-P coaching staff headed by Tom Vix), the Trojans will again be dynasty-worthy in 2014-2015.

Trojans Girls Section

Runners-Up

One thing is for sure. The Rushford-Peterson girls (23-4, 1A East champs) can’t look back at their section title game with Goodhue (24-5, 1A West champs) with regrets about one or two plays that didn’t go their way. The game didn’t boil down to a play or two. Goodhue lived up to the first four letters of its name. They clinched a trip to state by thoroughly handling R-P. In girls’ basketball, teams that can score the ball easily, that have multiple offensive weapons, and those that are athletic, are tough to beat. The Wildcats are all of the above. Rankings sometimes don’t mean much, but Goodhue lived up to their #1 spot in the state polls. R-P led ever so briefly, 4-3 after some nice offensive rebounding work early. The Wildcats responded with 8 unanswered points in less than a minute to lead 11-4. The Trojans hung around, trailing 22-14 at about the 7-minute mark, but Goodhue ended the half on a 16-4 run. They led 38-18 at intermission. The lead quickly ballooned to 20 and then 30 in the second half. The final was 75-38. A trio of Wildcats got into double figures, standout senior 2,000-point guard Mikayla Miller (21 pts, 9 rebs, 4 stls), eight-grader Sydney Lodermeier (12 pts, 4 rebs, 2 stls, 2 blks), and Shelby Hinsch (12 pts, 3 blks). Wildcat coach Josh Wieme played an eight girl rotation and all eight scored (in crunch time). For R-P, freshman Brianna Koop finished off her excellent first varsity season with 13 points and 5 rebounds. Goodhue held down Kendra Crawford (7 pts), swarming her when she drove. It was only the second time this season she was held below 10 points. Sierra McNamer and Keela Brand also had 7 points, Brand (a 5’4” forward) 11 rebounds. Thirty turnovers killed R-P. Their excellent 23-5 season comes to an end as Section 1A runner-up. It is the most wins for an R-P girls’ team in ten-plus seasons. They’ll lose senior starters, Crawford, McNamer, Brand, and Hope Morrison. With only one junior on this year’s roster, next year’s team will be very sophomore and junior heavy.

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