Bucs breeze to 2AA triumph

Anderson tallies double-double to top B.E. Area

VERTICAL DEFENSE — Blue Earth Area’s Cameron Anderson (3) elevates to contend a short jumper by Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial’s Caleb Shelton (4) during Section 2AA, South Sub-Section quarterfinal basketball action Monday night in Blue Earth. The Bucs’ Caelan Sanders (left) and Carter Bell (right) watch the action. Blue Earth Area went on to eliminate LCWM, 72-38. (Photo by Greg Abel)

BLUE EARTH — Blue Earth Area delivered a truly altruistic effort Monday night to breeze into the Section 2AA, South Sub-Section basketball semifinals.

Four players on the No. 2-seeded Bucs’ roster reached double digits in scoring, and all five starters contributed to a 23-0 offensive avalanche to open the second half, to steamroll to a 72-38 sub-section quarterfinal rout over the No. 7-seeded Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial Knights in Blue Earth.

Blue Earth Area (11-12) advances to play No. 3 seed New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva (12-14) in a 7:30 p.m. second-round sub-section clash Thursday night at Mankato East High School. The Panthers gained the sub-section semifinal on the strength of a 62-35 thrashing of No. 6 seed Kenyon-Wanamingo (1-25).

Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial ended the season with a 1-26 record.

“Good balanced scoring,” Blue Earth Area head coach Colby Swanson answered when asked about the playoff game’s key factor.

Cameron Anderson and Carter Bell packed a potent inside-outside offensive punch, respectively, by producing 16 points apiece for the Bucs, Caelan Sanders supplied 14 points and Austin Thielfoldt chipped in 11 points.

Anderson, who completed yet another double-double performance by garnering a game-best 14 rebounds to complement three steals and three assists, used his extraordinary vertical leap to reel off the first eight points during Blue Earth Area’s pivotal 10-0 surge midway through the opening half.

James Sullivan nailed a 3-pointer to swing a 10-9 lead to the Knights at the 11-minute juncture before Anderson twisted and weaved through lane traffic to toss in baskets off entry passes from Bell, Braden Gudahl and Thielfoldt, respectively, to reverse the momentum and overall score in the Bucs’ direction by the 8:32 mark.

Landon Lantz, who netted a team-best double-double of 13 points and 11 rebounds, and James Sullivan highlighted LCWM’s 9-2 counter-attack to inch within 23-21 with three minutes to go before intermission.

Sanders, however, erupted for six points during the Bucs’ ensuing 8-2 run, including a last-second 12-foot jumper, to close the first half with a 31-23 margin.

Sanders then picked up in the second half where he left off in the first, cashing in Grant Strukel’s assist to serve as the catalyst behind the Bucs’ game-sealing 23-0 surge.

“We (coaching staff and players) talked at halftime about cranking up our defensive intensity during the second half,” said Swanson. “When we accomplished that, we were able to create turnovers, and did a nice job of sharing the basketball to get the best look.”

Bell, Strukel and Anderson each dialed long distance for three of the Bucs’ seven overall 3-pointers during the Knights’ 7 1/2-minute scoreless stretch. LCWM went 0-for-7 from the field and committed eight turnovers during the span.

Lantz’s spinning low-post banker finally ended the Knights’ offensive drought at 54-25 with 10:22 remaining in regulation.

Strukel finished with five points and a game-leading seven steals for the Bucs, while Anderson, Bell, Thielfoldt and Gudahl distributed three assists apiece.

LCWM 23-15–38

BEA 31-41–72

B.E. AREA (72)

C. Anderson 6-12 3-6 16, Sanders 7-10 0-0 14, Strukel 2-6 0-0 5, Bell 6-10 0-0 16, Thielfoldt 3-9 5-5 11, Gudahl 1-2 0-0 3, Herrmann 1-2 0-2 2, Storbeck 1-1 0-0 2, Kienitz 0-2 1-2 1, Becker 0-1 0-0 0, Morrow 1-1 0-0 2, Carr 0-1 0-0 0, Keister 0-0 0-0 0, Barke 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 28-56 9-15 71.

LCWM (38)

Lantz 6-12 1-3 13, Hohenstein 1-4 2-2 5, J. Sullivan 2-4 0-0 5, Shelton 3-9 1-2 7, Graupman 1-5 0-0 3, Weston 0-2 0-0 0, L. Sullivan 0-0 0-2 0, Bode 0-1 0-0 0, Nickels 2-2 0-0 6. Totals 15-39 4-9 38.

3-pointers: Blue Earth Area 7-19 (Bell 4-7, Gudahl 1-1, Strukel 1-3, C. Anderson 1-4, Sanders 0-2, Thielfoldt 0-1, Kienitz 0-1); Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial 4-11 (Nickels 2-2, J. Sullivan 1-3, Graupman 1-4, Lantz 0-1, Hohenstein 0-1). Fouled out: J. Sullivan (LCWM). Rebounds: B.E. Area 29 (C. Anderson 14); LCWM 29 (Lantz 11). Assists: B.E. Area 16 (C. Anderson, Bell, Thielfoldt and Gudahl 3 each); LCWM 4. Steals: B.E. Area 16 (Strukel 7, C. Anderson 3); LCWM 2.

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