In the end, Maple River had enough correct answers to pass, schooling BEA to a 61-54 victory.
“The difference in the game was they shot well from two point and we didn’t,” BEA head coach Gary Holmseth says. “We were only 11 of 40 and they were 17 of 32.”
The Bucs managed to make up for their struggles inside with long range bombing from 3-point territory. A combined 24 of their 54 points were from beyond the arc.
Dallas Barslou led the charge from the perimeter making six 3-pointers on his way to a game-leading 22 points.
Neutralizing BEA’s hot shooting was Maple River’s ability to get to the basket and draw contact.
“They beat us at the free throw line,” Holmseth says. “Free throws and two point shooting were the two major factors in the game.”
The Eagles managed to get to the line 26 times during the game connecting on 18 of them. BEA only had half the number of opportunities their opponent had, making nine of 13 tries.
For a game that was tightly contested, there were not many lead changes.
The Bucs captured a 4-2 lead in the opening moments, but could never regain an advantage.
Battling back from a nine-point deficit midway through the first half, BEA’s Barslou hit a deep three from the left wing to knot the score at 28 with two minutes to play.
Maple River then went on a six-point run, setting themselves up with a 35-31 edge heading into the locker room at half.
The Eagles established their largest lead of the game at the 8:50 mark of the second half. BEA narrowly missed an opportunity for a steal, causing the Buc defense to be out of position. Ben Larson capitalized off the gamble and sunk a three to give Maple River a 51-40 edge.
After the lone double-digit lead of the night, BEA fired back immediately with an eight-point run.
A Barslou 3-pointer from the top of the key started the rally and two Luke Monson free throws cut the lead to six. On the next BEA possession, the crowd was sent into a frenzy when Barslou hit a pullup three to close the gap to 51-48.
With three minutes and 18 seconds remaining, Brady Anderson closed the Bucs within two points when he recovered a tipped ball and sunk a mid-range jumper.
That’s as close as BEA would get as the Bucs went cold from the field until Anderson hit a 3-pointer with 18 seconds left.
By that time, Maple River was able to extend their advantage to 59-54. Payton See sealed the win for the Eagles at the free throw line, reaching the final score of 61-54.
Josiah Breiter led Maple River with 19 points and 13 rebounds. Clark Minks followed closely behind scoring 18 points, racking up seven rebounds and dishing five assists.
Besides Barslou, other Bucs in double figures were Brady Anderson with 12 and Luke Monson with 10.
A highlight for the Bucs their past two games has been their play on defense.
“Our defensive intensity was good against Cannon Falls and tonight against Maple River,” Holmseth says. “Much better than last Thursday against Waseca.”
The Bucs fall to 5-11 on the season with the loss. Friday, BEA traveled to St. Peter after the Register’s deadline.
This week, they will host the United South Central Rebels on Monday. The game will be a rematch of the triple-overtime classic Dec. 28. BEA will be looking to revenge the 66-57 defeat.
The B game will start at 6 p.m. with the A squad to follow.