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Bucs on a roll; win four of five

By Staff | Jan 21, 2018

Blue Earth Area freshman guard Austin Thielfoldt drives baseline in the first half of a hotly contested battle with the New Ulm Eagles on Jan. 12. The maroon and gold eventually went on to win at home, 79-77 in double overtime. Thielfoldt’s five points in the double overtime period helped propel the Bucs to victory.

The Blue Earth Area boys basketball team (5-7) has now won four out of their last five contests. Their latest triumph was a 73-60 road win over Le Sueur-Henderson on Jan. 16.

BEA sophomore Carter Bell led the way for the Bucs as he notched a season-high 14 points. Bell connected on four of his six three point attempts in the game. As it turned out, he did not shoot the ball from inside the three point line throughout the evening.

Bell also led the way on defense as he recorded three steals in the contest. Fellow BEA sophomore Caelan Sanders ended the evening with 13 points, four rebounds, and two assists.

Another determining factor in the game was Blue Earth Area’s parade to the free throw line. While the Bucs connected on 18-25 free throws, or 72 percent, the Giants shot just four free throw attempts all game, converting on three.

Now playing their best basketball of the season thus far, Blue Earth Area head coach Colby Swanson has noticed an improved sense of confidence in his players. He believes this has helped boost his team’s overall performance heading down the stretch of close games.

“Earlier in the year, our team wasn’t used to being in those situations,” Swanson said. “At this point in the year, they are more confident being in those situations and I think that’s all it is. Just getting practice being in that situation and having the confidence to make the right play.”

BEA 79, New Ulm 77

After a thrilling overtime win in St. James on Jan. 5, the Blue Earth Area Buccaneers treated their home fans to a dramatic finish against New Ulm on Jan. 12. This time around, the heart-stopping action carried on into double overtime.

With 2:49 remaining in the second half, Blue Earth Area sophomore Grant Strukel converted on both of his free throw attempts to give the Bucs a 62-54 advantage. However, shoddy ball handling and lapses on defense allowed New Ulm to get back into the game.

The Eagles went on a 10-1 run and momentarily took a 64-63 lead with under a minute to go in regulation. The Bucs answered back as BEA sophomore Carter Bell connected on two clutch free throws with 37.1 seconds to go in the period. New Ulm added one more point before the second half expired as both teams headed into the extra session tied at 65.

In overtime, the Buccaneers found themselves trailing 71-69 with 13.2 seconds to go in the four-minute period. At that point, BEA head coach Colby Swanson called for time. With the game on the line, Swanson decided to put the basketball in the hands of his six-foot freshman phenom, Cameron Anderson.

“We were trying to give Cameron an opportunity to come off a ball screen and make a play,” Swanson explained. “Cameron had an opportunity to make a play and he made a pretty good one.”

Following the timeout, Anderson milked the clock along the perimeter before making his move to the basket. Once he attacked the hoop, he dished the ball to Strukel, who was streaking to the basket. With just seconds to spare, Strukel converted on a layup attempt to tie the score at 71 and send the game into a second overtime.

The Bucs regained control of the ballgame in double overtime on the strength of two three-pointers from Anderson and fellow freshman Austin Thielfoldt. With 1:22 remaining in the extra session, Thielfoldt added a couple of free throws to give Blue Earth Area a 79-73 advantage.

Despite the four-point cushion, the game wouldn’t be decided until the final possession. Clinging to a 79-77 lead, the Bucs allowed Eagles sophomore Reece Melby to fire a wide open shot from beyond the arc.

Fortunately for the Bucs, the shot was off the mark. BEA’s Bobby Lindsey chased down the long rebound and passed it off to Bell before going out of bounds. Bell dribbled out the clock and secured the win for the Buccaneers.

For the game, Strukel led all scorers with 27 points. Strukel accounted for four of BEA’s eight three-point field goals in the game. Meanwhile, Anderson and Caelan Sanders each accounted for 15 points for Blue Earth Area.

Afterwards, coach Swanson acknowledged his team’s flaws, but was also complimentary of their execution level during key moments of the seesaw affair.

“We were fortunate to win that game, we made a lot of mistakes, but we did make some big plays and some big plays down the stretch,” said Swanson.

On Friday, Jan. 19, Blue Earth Area traveled to Fairmont for a matchup with the arch rival Cardinals. While Fairmont sports a 10-4 record heading into the matchup, the Cardinals have dropped three of their last five contests.

Results from this game will be available in next week’s edition of the Faribault County Register.