Bucs take 1st at St. Clair
For the second year in a row, the Blue Earth Area Buccaneers raised a few eyebrows when they won the St. Clair Girls Holiday Basketball Tournament. They were not the favored team either year.
Last year, the Bucs won a thriller over previously unbeaten Canby to take the tourney title.
This year, it was a defensive decision over the Minnesota Valley Lutheran Chargers.
The Bucs built up a good lead, then hung on to survive two scoring droughts to win the game 41-36 and take home the championship.
“We completed a very good tournament with a solid game against MVL,” Buc coach Al Cue says. “They are always a good test.”
The only time in the entire game that the Buccaneers were behind was in the opening minute of play. The Chargers made a 3-pointer to get the 3-0 edge and their only lead.
BEA quickly countered with a three of their own to tie, then quickly built up an 8-5 lead.
After the Chargers got another basket to draw within one at 8-7, the Bucs went up 12-7.
The score stayed stuck at those numbers for just over five minutes, as neither team could find the basket.
Ashley Olson helped the Bucs start to break the game open, hitting a couple of 3-pointers, one from way back of the arc.
Her second score put the Bucs up 19-13.
A three by Camille Driscoll and a fast break layup by Olson, made the score 26-15 in favor of BEA at the half.
BEA really took control of the game in the early going of the second half.
A couple of steals by Olson, who had five in the game, turned into quick points on the other end of the court.
Olson stole the ball, passed ahead to Sara Warmka, who made the layup and was fouled on the shot.
Warmka made the free-throw and completed the traditional three-point play. That, plus another free throw by Katie Krieger, put the Bucs ahead by a commanding 17 points, at 36-19.
However, the Bucs went on another scoring drought, this one lasting well over seven minutes.
When BEA finally got another basket, by Sydney Ristau, there was just 1:52 left in the game, and the Chargers had crawled back to within six.
The Bucs missed several attempts at free-throws in the final minute, and Chargers made a game of it, getting to within four at 38-34 with 28 seconds left.
Ristau hit another basket, and Olson sank a free throw, to seal the 41-36 victory as time ran out.
“Our defense really shut them down – for most of the game,” Cue says. “They made a great run at us the last 10 minutes, but we were able to hold them off.”
Olson led the Bucs in the scoring column with 14, while Driscoll added 10 and Ristau six.
Ristau and Krista Hassing each grabbed five rebounds, while Warmka nabbed four.
Besides Olson’s five steals, Smith, Hassing and Rylee Wagner tallied two each. Olson had five assists, while Smith and Hassing each had two.
Canby defeated St. Clair in a close game, 55-53, with a last second shot, to claim third place.
BEA’s three tournament wins show the Bucs are an improving team, Cue says.
“But, there are still plenty of things we need to improve on,” he quickly adds.
The Bucs improved their record from 1-3 before the tourney, to a winning record of 4-3 after.
This week the Buccaneers travel to Jackson County Central on Tuesday, then host the New Ulm Eagles on Thursday.
Saturday, they host an unusual inter-state game when North Sentral Kossuth, Iowa, plays in the BEA gym.