BLUE EARTH - The Jackson County Central Huskies knew that in order to win the championship on Friday in the Blue Earth Area Holiday Tournament they would need to stop the Bucs Brandyn Olsen and Luke Monson.
The Husky defense did their part, holding BEA to just 35 points, with Olsen tallying 11 and Monson four in the 68-35 victory.
"We really wanted to make it a full-court game. We like to play up tempo and we were able to do that," said Jackson County Central head coach Trent Sukalski.
While the defense had the Bucs top scorers on lock-down, JCC junior Jon Harmening had no problem finding the basket in the first half, scoring 13 of his 18 total points and pulling down eight rebounds.
Harmening also played a key role in stopping Monson inside the paint on defense.
"Our plan coming in was to generate our offense through our defense. And we knew that if we could shut down Olsen and Monson then we would be in good shape," said Sukalski.
With Harmening dominating inside the lane in the first half, the fleet-footed Taylor Christopher created some transition offense with steals on the half-court trap creating lay-up opportunities.
Steven Plocker and Olsen fueled the Bucs' offense in the opening half, each scoring five points.
In addition to the ferocious Huskie defense, the Bucs faced another defender as they shot 34 percent from the floor, making 17 of 50 shots in the game.
Meanwhile their opponent shot 44 percent from the floor and 60 percent from the free throw line.
By halftime the Huskies had managed to hold the Bucs to just 16 points and held a 15-point lead.
Brady Place came off the bench in the second half for the Huskies and drained two baskets along the baseline in addition to a 3 from the wing for seven of his 10 points to spur the offensive effort.
"I'm proud of our kids effort tonight. We played well and worked hard and got the win," said Sukalski.
Plocker provided some much needed energy for the Bucs after halftime, power through Harmening for the basket and drawing the foul in the opening minutes.
And despite Olsen's efforts, the Bucs could not manage an offensive run.
Olsen managed 11 points and four rebounds in the game to lead th Bucs.
Plocker tallied seven points, while Monson pulled down eight rebounds.
In addition to Harmening's offense, Christopher tallied 11 points and four rebounds, while Place recorded 10 points.
Blue Earth Area (2-2, 0-1 South Central Conference) hosts St. James in a 7:30 p.m. SCC conference game on Friday in Blue Earth.
Jackson County Central (5-3) hosts Martin County West in a 7:30 p.m. nonconference game on Thursday in Jackson.
United South Central 55, Granada-Huntley-East Chain 41 - The Rebel offense scored 31 points in the second half, while allowing only 18 Mustang points to take the 55-41 victory in the third-place game of the Blue Earth Area Holiday Tournament on Friday night in Blue Earth.
Both offenses traded baskets through the first half, with neither team gathering a comfortable lead.
Defensively, the Mustangs were able to keep Rebel senior sharpshooter Cole Stencel from doing a lot of offensive damage as Dylan Petrowiak held him to just eight points in the opening frame.
Logan Pytleski provided a spark off the bench, scoring six points to keep the Mustangs within striking distance.
Nate Pederson helped carry the Rebels' offensive load, scoring six in the opening half.
Shumski led the Mustangs by scoring 12 points, despite foul trouble for the majority of the game. Trent Stensland added nine points, while Petrowiak and Pytleski finished with six each.
Walker Linde led the Rebels in the second half by scoring nine of his 13 points to help take the lead. Stencel and Pederson each finished with 10 points, while Steve Voigt tallied nine.
Granada-Huntley-East Chain (1-6, 1-3 Valley Conference) hosts Alden-Conger in a 7:30 p.m. conference game on Tuesday, Jan. 8, at East Chain School.
United South Central (4-5) hosts Blooming Prairie in a 7:15 p.m. game on Friday, Jan. 4, in Wells.
Walker Linde 6-8 0-0 13, Colin Becher 1-3 1-2 3, Trey Allis 0-8 2-4 2, Cole Stencel 3-11 2-2 10, Steve Voigt 4-8 1-2 9, Cody Nelson 4-5 0-1 8, Nate Pederson 4-7 2-2 10, Luke Trio 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 22-50 8-13 55.
Josh Johanson 0-4 0-0 0, Dylan Petrowiak 3-11 0-2 6, Ryan Shumski 6-12 0-0 12, Konnor Kristenson 2-7 0-4 4, Trent Stensland 4-9 1-2 9, Logan Pytleski 3-10 0-0 6, Josh Wolter 1-3 0-0 2, Jared Green 1-5 0-0 2. Totals: 20-61 1-8 41.
3-pointers: USC 3-9 (Linde 1-1, Allis 0-1, Stencel 2-6, Pederson 0-1); GHEC 0-5 (Stensland 0-1, Wolter 0-1, Green 0-3). Rebounds: USC 30 (Voigt 6, Nelson 6, Stencel 5); GHEC 23 (Stensland 9).