WELLS - The United South Central Rebels opened their Section 2AA, South Sub-Section basketball quarterfinal against the Blue Earth Area Bucs with a 7-3 lead that it would never relinquish on Monday night in Wells.
The No. 4-seeded Rebels held on for the 78-71 victory over the No. 5-seeded Bucs to advance in the playoffs.
USC (18-9) advances to face the Class 2A, No. 4-ranked Maple River Eagles at 6 p.m. Thursday at Mankato East High School in the Section 2AA, South Sub-Section semifinals.
UNDER & AROUND — United South Central’s Steve Voigt (with basketball) moves under and around Blue Earth Area defender Luke Monson (upper left) during Section 2A, South Sub-Section quarterfinal action on Monday night in Wells. USC’s Trey Allis tries to box out Blue Earth Area’s Colin Squiers (43), while the Bucs’ Isaac Darrington looks on. Photo by Leanna Becker
The No. 1-seeded Eagles (23-4) advanced by defeating No. 8 seed Triton, 81-42, on Monday in Mapleton.
The Bucs finished their season with a 9-13 record.
The Rebels grabbed the lead and momentum right away in the game with a 13-5 lead at the 11:05 mark in the first half.
"I thought that we played really well offensively. We thought that there would be some matchups that we could exploit and we were able to do that early," said USC head coach Robert Stevermer.
Senior guard Dallas Barslou gave the Bucs a chance to stay in the game down by eight, swishing a 3 to cut the lead to five.
The Rebels' Walker Linde, however, responded by laying in an easy basket on the ensuing USC possession to maintain their lead.
Barslou came back with a response, getting fouled and sinking a pair of free throws to make it 20-11 with less than 8 minutes remaining before halftime.
USC's 15-for-29 shooting - including a 5 of 6 effort from Steven Voigt, who finished with a game-high 27 points and 14 rebounds - helped the Rebels hold onto their lead.
Trey Allis sank a three from the baseline before teammate Nate Pederson snared a Buc pass at midcourt.
Pederson then sent a sizzling pass to Linde, who banked in the basket to make it 25-11 with 7:20 remaining in the half.
"I thought we stayed tough and stayed disciplined on defense against their big guys," Stevermer said in reference to holding the 6-foot-4 Isaac Darrington and 6-5 Luke Monson to just 18 combined points in the first half.
Monson, who was scoreless through the first 13 minutes of the game, provided a late offensive spark for the Bucs, scoring on back-to-back three-point plays to cut into the Rebels' deficit to make it 31-17 with more than 3 minutes left.
Monson's 4-for-8 shooting, along with an 80 percent free throw percentage in the first half, helped him net a team-leading 12 points at half. The junior finished with 18 points and four boards for the Bucs.
Along with snagging a steal, Pederson generated 10 of his 19 points in the opening half, going 5 of 7 shooting from the floor to help the Rebels take a 35-27 lead into halftime.
The Rebels maintained their offensive attack in the second half, with Voigt adding another 16 points, while teammate Cole Stencel grabbed eight boards and scored 10 points for USC.
"We really controlled the boards in the first half," Stevermer said about the Rebels' 17-10 rebounding advantage at the break. "We knew that they had their big guys who would try to control it, but we thought we had some quickness to try and get some rebounds."
Buc senior Brandyn Olsen added offensive firepower in the second half by scoring 18 of his team-leading 21 points, two coming on a layup, to make it 39-30 with just over 13 minutes remaining.
Unfortunately for Blue Earth Area, Stencel doled out three straight assists to Colin Becher for two of his six points and a pair to Voigt for two baskets to make it 45-31.
Isaac Darrington later finished off a layup for two of his 17 points to make it 45-33, before Olsen completed a 3-point play on the next Buc possession to cut the Rebel lead to 45-35 with 12:30 left.
Monson swished a 3 with 6 minutes remaining to make it 51-58, but Pederson sank a trifecta to maintain the home team's advantage.
Darrington grabbed a team-leading 16 rebounds in his final game on the hardwood for the Bucs, while Barslou finished with 13 points.
Section 2A Playoffs
Mountain Lake Area 81, Nicollet 37 - Carter Kirk erupted for a game-high double-double performance of 26 points and 14 rebounds to power the No. 1-seeded Wolverines to an 81-37 playoff triumph over the No. 8-seeded Raiders on Monday night in Mountain Lake.
Mountain Lake Area (21-5) advances to face No. 4-seeded Mankato Loyola (13-14) at 6 p.m. Thursday in St. James in a Section 2A, South Sub-Section semifinal. The Crusaders reached the next round via a 75-69 victory over No. 5-seeded Southwestern United.
Josiah Stoesz contributed 19 points and seven rebounds to the Wolverines' winning ways, while teammate Andrew Hempeck produced 13 points to complement game-highs of six assists and six steals. Kirk added five blocked shots for MLA.
The Wolverines made 33 of 53 shots from 2-point range for 62 percent, only 1 of 14 from 3-point distance and 12 of 22 at the free throw line.
Mt. Lake 45-36-81
St. Clair 73, Granada-Huntley-East Chain 58 - Ryan Kruse delivered a game-leading 31 points to engineer the No. 2-seeded Cyclones' 73-58 playoff victory over the No. 7-seeded Mustangs on Monday night in St. Clair.
St. Clair (19-8) advances to play No. 3-seeded Springfield (19-6) at 8 p.m. Thursday in St. James in a Section 2A, South Sub-Section semifinal.
Granada-Huntley-East Chain ended its season with a 7-17 record.
Konnor Kristenson scored 12 points to top a balanced GHEC offensive performance, while Josh Johanson tallied 11 points.
Ryan Shumski delivered a double-double performance of 10 points and 11 rebounds to complement five blocked shots for the Mustangs.
Dylan Petrowiak supplied nine points and four assists for GHEC, Trent Stensland pulled down six rebounds, while Jared Green pocketed three steals.
The Mustangs connected on 21 of 45 shots from 2-point distance, 2 of 11 from behind the bonus arc and 8 of 11 at the free throw line.
St. Clair 42-31-73
Springfield 86, Truman/Martin Luther 55 - Isaac Kirschstein tossed in a game-best 21 points to help the No. 3-seeded Tigers scratch the No. 6-seeded BluejayKnights, 86-55, during Section 2A, South Sub-Section quarterfinal action Monday night in Springfield.
Springfield (19-6) advances to play No. 2-seeded St. Clair in Thursday's 8 p.m. sub-section semifinal in St. James.
Truman/Martin Luther ended its season with a 14-13 record.
Christopher Kretsch and Tyler Vogel each produced 19 points for Springfield, which made 34 of 63 field goals and 11 of 15 free throws on the night.
DaMarko Thomas and Alex Weihe neared double-double territory for the BluejayKnights by scoring 10 points and collecting eight rebounds apiece.
Chandler Greier netted 10 points for TML, Sam Geistfeld supplied nine points and eight boards, while Cade Ekstrom chipped in nine points and five rebounds.
The BluejayKnights hit 22 of 62 field goals and 7 of 15 free throws on the game.