Huskies nip Bucs for Classic hoops crown

HACKED — Blue Earth Area’s Hannah Johnson (15) drives to the basket and gets fouled by Jackson County Central’s Melissa Brandt (4) during the Blue Earth Area Holiday Classic’s championship game Friday in Blue Earth. The Huskies’ Alaina Wolff (second from left) and Lauren Murphy (12) watch the action. (Photo by Greg Abel)

BLUE EARTH — The Brinkman family name in Jackson County Central circles has been closely associated with success in the sport of golf.

Molly Brinkman drained four consecutive 3-pointers to help pace the Huskies’ 37-26 second-half scoring edge over Blue Earth Area en route to a narrow 56-54 win over the host Bucs in the Holiday Classic girls basketball championship clash on Friday.

“That’s what you shoot for,” Brinkman said in reference to 3s, which are usually birdies on golf scorecards.

Jackson County Central capitalized on Brinkman’s four trifectas and three more 3s from Alaina Wolff, in conjunction with stepping to the free throw line three times as much Blue Earth Area, to fend off the Bucs’ late comeback.

The Huskies connected on 21 of 36 charity tosses, including Brinkman’s 5-for-6 performance and a 5-for-8 effort from Melissa Brandt. Ironically, JCC’s Kailey Koep single-handedly attempted more free throws (15) than the entire BEA team (12), making one less — 8 — than the Bucs’ whole linup.

“They’re (the Huskies) physical and quick, and like to drive to the basket,” Buc head coach Al Cue said prior to tipoff.

Cue’s pre-game analysis proved correct as Koep generated seven of her nine first-half points from the stripe to keep JCC within striking distance of BEA — 28-19 — by intermission.

The high-scoring junior forward tandem of Caitlin Rorman and Hannah Johnson each produced 10 first-half points, while post player Lindsey Norman contributed four points and five of her game-best nine rebounds during the initial 18 minutes to pace the Bucs’ nine-point halftime advantage.

Johnson, who netted 17 points on the game, swooshed a top-of-the-key 3 to expand BEA’s margin to 24-16 with 3 1/2 minutes left in the first half. Rorman, who topped all scorers with 21 points, doled out one of her four assists to Grace Mensing for a layup only 30 seconds later.

Wolff, who collected four assists and six rebounds, nailed a trey for three of her 13 points on the game to inch JCC within 26-19 with 1:44 remaining before halftime.

Rorman spotted Johnson for a baseline jumper off an inbound pass with a minute to go to carry a nine-point lead into the lockerroom.

Unfortunately for the Bucs, Brinkman could not miss from 3-point distance during the second half. After Johnson converted a backdoor lob from Sofie Blair for a 32-24 Bucs’ lead, Wolff converted one of Brinkman’s three assists for a low-post lay-in that triggered an 11-0 Huskies’ run.

Brinkman drilled a left-corner 3 off a Wolff assist before Brandt converted a steal into a breakaway basket. Koep added a solo free throw before Brinkman’s left-wing trey off a Koep pass snapped a 32-all tie and gave JCC its first lead of the tournament championship.

Blair hit a low-post leaner and Johnson nailed her third 3 of the game to counter for BEA and restore a two-point edge at 37-35 with 8 1/2 minutes left in regulation.

Brinkman’s fourth and final trifecta helped extend the Huskies’ lead to 50-42 with 2:53 to go before Norman’s entry pass to Rorman in the low post, combined with Te’a Armstrong’s backcourt theft and ensuing layup, trimmed the Bucs’ deficit to four only 23 seconds later.

Wolff and Blair traded pairs of free throws down the stretch before Rorman’s drive through traffic finally whittled BEA’s gap to 54-52 with 8 seconds remaining.

Brinkman, who finished with a team-best 17 points, sealed the Huskies’ comeback win with two free throws only 1 second later. Rorman hit a last-second putback basket to reduce the final deficit to just two.

Blair finished with eight points, seven rebounds and three assists for the Bucs, while Brandt tallied nine points and made three steals for the Huskies.

Blue Earth Area (5-6) plays host to St. James Area on Thursday night, while Jackson County Central (7-4) travels to Pipestone Area next Saturday for a 6 p.m. tipoff.

JCC 19-37–56

BEA 28-26–54

B.E. AREA (54)

L. Norman 2-4 0-1 4, Sofie Blair 2-6 4-4 8, Rorman 9-19 3-5 21, H. Johnson 6-14 2-2 17, Mensing 1-5 0-0 2, Ripley 0-2 0-0 0, Stevermer 0-2 0-0 0, Armstrong 1-3 0-0 2, K. Johnson 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 21-55 9-12 54.

JCC (56)

Wolff 4-18 2-3 13, Murphy 1-2 1-2 3, Koep 3-4 8-15 14, Brinkman 4-9 5-6 17, Brandt 2-7 5-8 9, Post 0-0 0-2 0. Totals 14-40 21-36 56.

3-pointers: JCC 7-16 (Brinkman 4-6, Wolf 3-10); BEA 3-15 (H. Johnson 3-10, Rorman 0-4, L. Norman 0-1). Fouled out: Mensing. Rebounds: BEA 38 (L. Norman 9, Sofie Blair 7); JCC 24 (Wolff 6). Assists: BEA 16 (Rorman 4, L. Norman and Sofie Blair 3 each); JCC 9 (Wolff 4, Koep 3). Steals: JCC 8 (Koep 4); BEA 6 (Rorman 3).

Granada-Huntley-East Chain/Truman/Martin Luther 36, United South Central 27 — Emma Becker netted eight of her co-team-high 10 points during the second half, including a pair of 3-pointers, to guide the Jaguars to a nine-point victory over the Rebels during the third-place game in the Blue Earth Area Holiday Classic on Friday.

Becker also grabbed five rebounds, teammate Macy Quinn delivered a co-team-best 10 points, while Rachel Stauter contributed five points, six steals and six rebounds to the winning effort.

Marissa Steinhaus hauled in a team-high seven rebounds for the Jaguars, while Madisen Wildfeuer chipped in four points.

The Jaguars outscored the Rebels, 21-14, during the second half after clinging to a 15-13 lead at intermission.

Lydia Hernandez scored a game-leading 14 points to top USC, while teammate Kaylee Carlson chipped in six points.

Granada-Huntley-East Chain/Truman/Martin Luther (1-7) travels to Madelia on Thursday night.

Boys Basketball

Jackson County Central 80, Truman/Martin Luther/Granada-Huntley-East Chain 47 — Rudy Voss erupted for a game-leading 32 points to guide the Huskies to a 33-point victory over the Jaguars during the Blue Earth Area Holiday Classic on Friday night.

Derek Shoen topped the Jaguars’ runner-up showing with 12 points and seven rebounds, while teammate Mason Maloney scored six points and pulled down five boards.

Zach Wolter chipped in five points for the Jaguars, who hit 15 of 31 shots from 2-point range, 3 of 12 behind the 3-point arc and only 8 of 17 at the free throw line.

The Jaguars (3-6) travel to Cedar Mountain/Comfrey on Thursday, Jan. 4.

Blue Earth Area 63, United South Central 61 — Austin Thielfoldt’s buzzer-beating putback basket propelled the Bucs to a two-point triumph over the Rebels during the third-place game of the Blue Earth Area Holiday Classic on Friday night in Blue Earth.

Thielfoldt finished with eight points, while teammate Caelan Sanders topped the Bucs’ balanced point production with 14.

Grant Strukel collected 12 points, five rebounds and three assists for BEA, Cameron Anderson supplied 10 points, Carter Bell chipped in seven points, while Jacob Vaske delivered six points, 11 rebounds and five steals.

Colby Klocek erupted for a game-high 31 points, including 21 during USC’s 40-34 scoring edge in the second half. A.J. Kloos added 11 points for the Rebels.

Blue Earth Area (2-6) travels to St. James Area on Friday, Jan. 5.