Bucs fall in the sub-section final
A well executed game plan had the Blue Earth Area Buccaneers within three points of the favored St. Peter Saints midway through the Section 2, Class AA, South Sub-section basketball championship.
The Bucs held St. Peter center Wyatt Olson to three first-half points while limiting him to only four rebounds. The 6-foot-5 junior responded with a second half performance of 19 points and 14 rebounds to help guide the Saints to a 79-68 win.
BEA’s Caelan Sanders scored 18 of his 24 points in the first half. The junior guard attacked the lane and hit a number of pull-up jumpers, making eight of his 12 shots in the first half.
The opening stanza was a back and forth affair featuring 10 lead changes and five ties.
St. Peter was leading 16-15 with 10:47 remaining in the first half when BEA put together an 8-0 run to take a 23-16 lead.
Sanders started the scoring streak with a fade-away jumper in the lane. Austin Thielfoldt connected for two points followed by a Cameron Anderson jumper from the free-throw line to put the Bucs on top 21-16 and force a Saints timeout.
Following the timeout, Anderson added another basket to give BEA their largest advantage of the night before the Saints started to chip away at the lead.
St. Peter eventually retook the lead at 28-27 but Sander’s second 3-pointer of the opening half put the Maroon and Gold ahead 30-28. Two free throws by the Saints’ Josh Johnson knotted the score at 30-30 but Sanders hit a turn-around jumper to give the Bucs a 32-30 edge. It would be the last time BEA would hold the lead for the night.
With the score tied 33-33, Johnson hit a three-pointer for the Saints to close out the scoring in the opening stanza with St. Peter on top 36-33.
Grant Strukel’s opening bucket of the second half pulled the Bucs to within a point of the Saints at 36-35. St. Peter maintained a lead of two to six points through the first six minutes of the final half.
The Saints’ margin over the Bucs increased to double-digits with 10:24 showing on the clock and the score 56-46.
St. Peter was able to extend their lead to 13 points at 64-51 but a basket by Sanders and a traditional 3-point play by Anderson cut the Saints’ advantage to eight points at 64-56. The Bucs had opportunities to cut the lead even more but were unable to get any closer than eight points until 2:33 remained in the game.
Two free throws by sophomore guard Braden Gudahl lowered St. Peter’s advantage to seven points at 73-66. However, the Saints made three of four shots from the free-throw line to push the lead back to 10 points at 76-66 with 1:48 left to seal the win.
St. Peter, with an overall record of 21-6, moved on to play Jordan for the Section 2AA championship on March 15.
It was the final game of their high school career for Buccaneer seniors Eric Becker and Parker Kienitz. BEA finished their season with a 12-13 overall record.