The Blue Earth Area boys basketball team fell behind early and were defeated by the Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial Knights 68-46 Thursday night.
The Knights, champions of the Valley Conference, pulled away in the second half on their way to their 20th victory of the year, while the hometown Bucs record fell to 7-15.
A layup by the Knights put them on the board first but Dallas Barslou answered with a shot from behind the arc to give the Bucs their only lead of the night at 3-2.
Dallas Barslou is determined to drive the lane.
The Knights' outstanding playmaker, sophomore Bryson Yackel, poured in his own three-pointer and then added two free throws giving the Knights a 7-3 lead.
Jake Wagner converted a pass from Sam Lee into a short jumper pulling the Bucs within two points.
BEA ran into early foul trouble with Issac Darrington having to sit after picking up his second foul with 14:30 remaining in the first half.
LCWM scored six unanswered points to take an eight-point lead at 13-5. They pushed their lead to 14 points with just over four minutes left in the opening half.
Short jumpers by Lee and Steven Plocker and two threes by Barslou enabled the Bucs to close the gap to 10 points at half time with the Knights leading 35-25.
Darrington opened the second half with a flurry scoring the first six points for the Bucs. His first basket was matched by the Knights to keep the teams 10 points apart. He then made a nice spin move to put one in with his left hand.
Following a defensive stop, the lanky junior forward went to work again grabbing an offensive rebound and converting it for another basket to pull the Bucs within six points of the Knights at 37-31 with 16:03 showing on the clock.
A time-out by the Knights stopped the Bucs momentum.
The next 90 seconds were tough for the Bucs.
Not only did the Knights score six consecutive points to take a 12-point lead, both Lee and Darrington picked up their third fouls.
Barslou connected on his fourth trey of the night to temporarily get the deficit back to single digits at 43-34.
It would be the last time the Bucs would be within 10 points.
The Knights used repeated trips to the foul line to increase their lead.
In fact, the Knights made their first 18 free throws before recording their first miss with 10:41 to go in the game.
The Knights ended up making 22 of 25 free throw attempts, while the Bucs went to the charity stripe 16 times making 10.
LCWM held a 29-23 advantage on the boards and shot nearly 50 percent from the field hitting on 21 of 43 shots. The Bucs made 16 of their 45 field goal attempts.
Barslou led the Bucs with 19 points. Darrington finished with eight points and Jake Wagner added seven points.
The Bucs host Jackson County Central Tuesday, Feb. 28. The game will be played in Pemberton Auditorium.