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BEA boys fight to the finish

By Staff | Dec 24, 2017

Caelan Sanders swoops to the hoop for two of his team leading 17 points. Sanders’ chase down block late in the fourth quarter helped ignite the BEA crowd and lifted the Bucs to an 8-0 run.

The Blue Earth Area Buccaneers (1-5) found themselves in the midst of a hotly contested battle last Thursday night at home against the Maple River Eagles (4-3). As it turned out, the game would not be decided until the final buzzer sounded.

BEA sophomore guard Caelan Sanders was a jack- of-all-trades in the ballgame. Not only did Sanders lead the team with 17 points, but he consistently found open teammates off the dribble, setting the tempo for the Bucs offense for most of the game.

Sanders also made his presence felt on the defensive end of the floor. Bucs head coach Colby Swanson recognizes the intense effort coming from his young swing man.

“I thought he did a really good job defending their best guard,” Swanson said of Sanders after the game. “Mason Sohre is a good guard for Maple River and Caelan did a good job of preventing him from getting to the basket.”

Maple River led most of the first half, but Blue Earth Area wasn’t far behind. After a Jacob Vaske putback, the Bucs took their first lead of the game, 24-23, with 3:57 remaining before halftime. However, Maple River weathered the storm and maintained a 27-26 edge going into halftime.

The Bucs once again held a momentary lead, 32-30, with 13:47 to go in the game. The Eagles answered right back, and kept the Bucs at bay after wrestling back the lead.

With 4:08 remaining, and the Eagles enjoying a 44-38 lead, the game was hanging in the balance when Sanders made one of the most exciting plays of the game.

As an Eagles ball handler raced down the court for a possible fastbreak layup, Sanders pursued the play from behind and swatted the shot out of bounds. The chase down block sent the BEA faithful into a frenzy. Coach Swanson feels the emotional lift from that play inspired the Bucs to regain the lead.

“Whenever you have a block like that, it may not put points on the board, but getting your teammates excited by making a hustle play like that is the reason why we went on a little run at the end of the game and almost won,” Swanson said.

From that point, BEA went on an 8-0 run with Sanders accounting for six Bucs points. The Bucs maintained a 46-44 lead until the Eagles tied up the game with 30 seconds remaining. Maple River took the lead for good after Sohre’s runner in the lane bounced off the back iron, went high into the air, and went through the net with 0.6 seconds left.

Down 48-46 at that point, Bucs freshman Austin Thielfoldt caught a deflected inbounds pass and launched a desperation three point shot from beyond half court that nearly went in. The ball bounced off the backboard, and then hit the front of the rim before finally rimming out.

“That’s about as close as a ball can get without it going in,” coach Swanson said. “It would have been a miraculous shot, but it just wasn’t meant to be tonight.

“I’m really happy with our defensive effort, I thought we played hard and we were really aggressive, it’s just always disappointing when you feel like your kids played that hard, and were a few plays short,” he added.

Waseca 77, BEA 38

Ranked tenth in Class 3A, the Waseca Bluejays overwhelmed Blue Earth Area by 39 points on Dec. 15. The Bucs were outscored 51-15 in the first half. BEA senior Jacob Vaske scored 10 points while grabbing four rebounds, and freshman Austin Thielfoldt added eight points and five rebounds.