USC falls just short of State bid
The last time the United South Central boys basketball team lost a game was on Jan. 20 to Blooming Prairie.
The Rebels came into the Section 2A championship game with a 13-game winning streak. Unfortunately, USC could not make it 14 straight, as they fell to Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City 69-61 on March 7 in Bresnan Arena at Minnesota State University, Mankato.
Junior USC guard Nate Pederson scored 18 points, grabbed five rebounds, had three assists and three steals to lead the Rebels.
“We couldn’t quite get the stops we wanted,” coach Robert Stevermer says. “Atwater played scrappy and deserved the victory. Our guys didn’t finish some plays, which led to quick outlets and easy baskets going the other way.”
The first 18 minutes were evenly played by both teams.
USC took a nine point lead with 3:10 remaining in the half, 34-25.
However, the Falcons closed out the half by stopping the Rebels on offense and scored six unanswered points heading into halftime.
Despite the late push, USC took a 34-31 lead into the break.
Rebel forward Riley Kloos, who scored 11 of his 14 points in the first half, started the second half with a three-point play, expanding the USC lead.
The Falcons then applied defensive pressure and began getting easy shots off. They outscored USC 20-7 over the next eight minutes taking a 51-44 lead.
Senior guard Taylor Larson hit a straight-away three pointer and successfully converted a three-point play on back to back possessions, giving the Falcons a 60-54 lead with 1:45 remaining in the game.
In a last ditch effort, Luke Trio hit a late three-pointer for the Rebels, cutting the Falcon lead to five, 62-57. Pederson then stole a pass from half court and finished off a layup on the other end with 50 seconds remaining, narrowing ACGC’s lead to 62-59.
The Falcons kept the lead by hitting their free throws down the stretch.
Larson led four Falcons in double figures with a game-high 21 points.
Colton Minnick also contributed 18 points for the Section 2A champions.
ACGC advanced to the Minnesota State High School League State Boys Basketball Tournament on March 12-15 at Target Center and Williams Arena in Minneapolis.
“I give credit to ACGC for playing a great game,” Stevermer says. “We were right there, but couldn’t finish it out in the end. Our guys battled all year and they did a great job.”
In other action, the United South Central girls basketball team fell to Mankato Loyola 48-41 in the Section 2A, South Subsection Championship last Monday in St. Peter.
Tara Bauman led the Rebels with 12 points and Shianne Robertson contributed 11.
USC ended the season with a 19-7 mark while Loyola improved to 25-2 and played Lester Prairie-Holy Trinity last Friday for the 2A Section Championship at Minnesota State, Mankato.