Bucs hold on to defeat the Eagles
The Blue Earth Area Buccaneers and Maple River Eagles were locked in a low-scoring dual during most of the first half of their Section 2AA, South Subsection semifinal basketball game last Thursday, March 5, played at Mankato East High School.
BEA eventually worked their way to a nine-point lead at halftime, expanded it to 20 points in the second half, and then held on for a 59-52 victory.
The No. 2-seeded Bucs will now face the Class AA No. 2-ranked and No. 1-seeded Waseca Bluejays for the sub-section title. That game will begin at 8 p.m. on Monday, March 9, at the Taylor Center on the campus of Minnesota State University in Mankato.
“We knew Maple River wanted to play us tough on the inside, slow things down and limit the number of our possessions,” BEA head coach Colby Swanson said. “So that was not unexpected.”
And the Eagles found success with their plan most of the first half.
In fact, the score was tied at 10 when Braden Gudahl stroked a 3-pointer with five minutes remaining in the opening stanza to put the Bucs up for good at 13-10.
Gavin Storbeck added another basket from behind the arc and BEA opened up a 16-10 lead. The Bucs would outscore the Eagles 7-4 during the remainder of the first half to take a 23-14 halftime lead.
BEA started the second half where they left off in the first half.
Gudahl hit another 3-pointer. Cameron Anderson, who had been held scoreless in the first 18 minutes of the game, made a conventional 3-point play before stepping behind the arc to add three more points to the Bucs’ total.
With BEA’s outside shooting heating up, they also found room on the inside for some easy baskets.
“When we started making our outside shots it forced them to extend their defense,” Swanson explained. “That opened up the inside for us.”
And when they were not scoring on the inside the Bucs were drawing fouls.
BEA made 24 trips to the free-throw line during the game and were successful on 20 of their shots.
The Bucs had built their second-half lead to 38-24 when Austin Thielfoldt sank two free throws for a 40-24 lead. Anderson then drove the baseline for a reverse layup before Gudahl’s pass to Zach Herrmann resulted in an easy basket in the paint. Anderson added another layup after BEA dismantled Maple River’s press and the Bucs had now taken a 46-24 lead with 10:24 to go in the game.
BEA still held a 54-36 lead with 3:33 to go in the game but the Eagles would drain four 3-pointers in the closing minutes to close the gap to seven points at the end of the contest.
Anderson led the team in scoring with 15 points while pulling down nine rebounds. Gudahl connected on four of his five 3-point attempts for 12 points. Storbeck tallied 10 points, Thielfoldt had nine while Herrmann and Sam Keister each had six.
Herrmann also had nine rebounds and Thielfoldt led the team with six assists.
The Bucs improved their overall record to 14-10 while the Eagles end their season with a 13-15 record.
BEA 90, NRHEG 63
Zach Herrmann and Cameron Anderson combined for 41 points to lead the No. 2-seeded Blue Earth Area Buccaneers to a 90-63 Section 2AA playoff victory over the No. 7-seeded New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva Panthers on Saturday, Feb. 29, in Blue Earth.
Both teams shot the ball well in the early portion of the contest. With 10:23 remaining in the first half the Bucs were only up by two points at 17-15.
A little over three minutes later the Panthers had cut their deficit to one point at 22-21.
However, BEA outscored NRHEG 23-9 during the remainder of the first half to take a 45-30 lead at the half.
Gavin Storbeck started the Bucs’ surge with a 3-pointer with less than seven minutes remaining in the opening stanza. Herrmann then scored seven of the team’s next eight points.
The sophomore forward converted an offensive rebound for two points. Herrmann was then fouled as he made another basket and made the free throw to complete a traditional 3-point play. He then posted up in the lane and scored over the shorter defender to add two more points to BEA’s total.
Anderson capped off the Bucs’ run with a 3-pointer which ripped the nets with less than two seconds to go in the opening half.
Two consecutive baskets by NRHEG cut BEA’s lead to 69-58 midway through the second half. The 11-point deficit would be as close as the Panthers would get to the Bucs during the remainder of the game.
A Braden Gudahl drive to the hoop and a Sam Keister basket off a Gudahl assist increased the Bucs’ lead to 15 points. A steal by Anderson resulted in a coast-to-coast layup and Keister added a baseline jumper to make it a 77-58 ball game in favor of BEA and remove any hope the Panthers might have had to stage a rally.
BEA shot 56 percent from 2-point range, 36 percent from 3-point range and made 65 percent of their free throws during the game.
Herrmann recorded a double-double for the Bucs with 22 points and 11 rebounds. Anderson added 19 points, Grant Strukel scored 12, Keister finished with 10, Gudahl had nine and Storbeck tallied eight.
Strukel and Austin Thielfoldt each had six rebounds. BEA led NRHEG 40-33 in total rebounds.