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BEA boys open playoffs with win

Team needs second-half rally to fend off the upset-minded Tigers

By Kevin Mertens - Staff Writer | Mar 21, 2021

BEA’s Austin Thielfoldt (5) glides towards the basket while Medford defenders AJ Vandereide (11) and Gunner White (32) look to stop him. Thielfoldt scored 14 points and helped guide the Bucs to a 68-58 victory.

The No. 2-seeded Blue Earth Area Buccaneers received quite a scare when they played host to the No. 7-seeded Medford Tigers in a Section 2AA South Sub-Section boys basketball game on Thursday, March 18.

BEA trailed by as many as seven points early in the second half before guard Austin Thielfoldt ignited a Buccaneer comeback which led to an eventual 68-58 victory for the Maroon and Gold.

The Tigers took an early 8-5 lead in the game before Cameron Anderson caught a Braden Gudahl pass in the air and slammed it home to pull the Bucs within one point. Next, Anderson stole the ball at half court and took it in for a layup and a one-point BEA lead.

Things seemed to be going the Bucs’ way. Another dunk by Anderson and a 3-pointer by Ashton Lloyd put the home team on top 21-12.

Medford recovered and with 6-foot-6 forward AJ Vandereide leading the way, the Tigers fought back to tie the game 28-28 at the intermission.

Vandereide constantly drove the lane and scored 12 of Medford’s final 16 points in the opening stanza.

The Tigers scored the first seven points of the second half to open up a 35-28 lead.

Thielfoldt had had enough. The 5-foot-8 guard hit two pull-up jumpers in the lane and one free throw to cut the Tigers’ lead to 37-35. Medford made two free throws but Thielfoldt hit another bucket to keep the Bucs within two.

The Bucs tied the game when Lloyd stole the ball at half court and passed to Gavin Storbeck who laid the ball in to tie the game at 37-37 with 13 minutes remaining in the contest.

The game was tied at 56-56 when Anderson sank a free throw to put the Bucs on top for good with 4:45 showing on the scoreboard clock.

Lloyd scored on an inbounds play and Anderson drove the lane for another basket to give BEA a 61-56 lead at the 2:28 mark.

Medford would make only one more bucket and the Bucs made 7 of 8 free throws to secure the 68-58 win.

“Austin did a great job of helping us pick up our intensity,” BEA head coach Colby Swanson said. “Ashton did a great job on the boards and getting to the basket and Will Howard came in and created shots for us.”

Lloyd let the Bucs with 17 points, Anderson had 15, Gudahl and Thielfoldt had 14 each, Storbeck tallied six and Howard added two.

Lloyd and Thielfoldt each pulled down seven rebounds. Gudahl and Storbeck each had four assists and Anderson had five steals.

The Bucs played host to the No. 3-seeded Maple River Eagles on Saturday, March 20.

Luverne 73, BEA 70

The Blue Earth Area boys basketball team traveled to Luverne on Friday, March 12, to take on the Luverne Cardinals in a Big South Conference crossover game. Both teams entered the contest with identical 13-3 records.

The Bucs led 42-38 at half time but the Cardinals outscored the Maroon and Gold by a 35-28 margin in the second half to win the game 73-70 and hand the Bucs their fourth loss of the season.

BEA held a 34-31 lead in the latter stages of the opening half when Gavin Storbeck and Austin Thielfoldt hit back-to-back 3-pointers to put the Bucs up 40-31. Luverne scored a basket but BEA got the points back when Thielfoldt used one of his team-leading eight assists to spot Cameron Anderson unguarded under the basket for an easy two points and a 42-33 Buccaneer lead.

However, the Cardinals closed the half on a 5-0 run to cut the Bucs’ lead to four points at the intermission.

BEA held the lead through the opening minutes of the second half before a late rally by Luverne resulted in the Cardinals winning the game.

The Bucs made 20 of 32 shots from 2-point range while the Cardinals were 14 of 27. Both teams made nine 3-pointers. BEA attempted 21 long-range shots compared to 17 for Luverne.

The Cardinals held a huge advantage at the free-throw line. The Bucs went to the charity stripe three times and made all three shots. Meanwhile, Luverne had 22 free-throw attempts and made 18. BEA was charged with 13 fouls during the game while the home team was only charged with two.

Anderson was the leading scorer for the Bucs with 26 points. The senior was 11 of 12 from the field including 2 of 2 from 3-point range. He also made his only two free-throw attempts. Thielfoldt also reached double digits with 12 points. Braden Gudahl had nine, Storbeck finished with eight, Ashton Lloyd finished with seven, Sam Keister tallied eight and Will Howard had two.

Keister led the team with eight rebounds. Lloyd had seven.