B.E. Area hoopsters face St. Peter for South Sub-Section crown

OVER THE TOP — Blue Earth Area’s Cameron Anderson (3) flips a running leaner over New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva defender Jacob Schuller (1) during regular-season basketball action in Blue Earth. Anderson and teammate Austin Thielfoldt (4) play St. Peter at 6 p.m. tonight for the Section 2AA, South Sub-Section championship at the Taylor Center in Mankato. (Photo by Greg Abel)

MANKATO — The formula for reaching any prep basketball sectional championship game is simple — find the best offensive option, play blanketing defense, eliminate turnovers and make free throws during the waning minutes of regulation and/or overtime.

And have a little bit of luck … knock on wood.

Tonight, Blue Earth Area mentor Colby Swanson and St. Peter head coach Sean Keating, however, will rely upon their coaching prowess and the merits of their talent-laden lineups to try to capture the Section 2AA, South Sub-Section crown when the Bucs and Saints square off at 6 p.m. at the Taylor Center on the Minnesota State University campus in Mankato.

Keating’s No. 1-seeded Saints (20-6) swept the two-game Big South Conference regular-season series with the No. 2-seeded Bucs (12-12), but most coaches will agree that one must wipe the proverbial slate clean when it comes to the playoffs.

In fact, Blue Earth Area and St. Peter actually lost their last and next-to-last games of the regular season to teams competing tonight for sub-section championships in Section 3AA and Section 2A, respectively.

Jackson County Central — which battles St. James Area for the 3AA South Sub-Section crown — defeated Blue Earth Area on Feb. 28, while Springfield — which takes on Waterville-Elysian-Morristown for the 2A South Sub-Section title at 6 p.m. tonight at Gustavus Adolphus in St. Peter — downed St. Peter on Feb. 22.

Ironically, the tougher competition to close out the regular season seems to have united the players on both the Bucs and the Saints.

Wyatt Olson poured in 21 points and teammate Brock Hanson produced 14 points and 12 rebounds to help St. Peter fend off Maple River in last Thursday’s sub-section semifinal, 73-58.

In Game 2 at Mankato East High School last Thursday, Cameron Anderson led a balanced Blue Earth Area attack with 18 points to eliminate New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva in sub-section semifinal play, 70-54. Austin Thielfoldt netted 13 points for the Bucs, Carter Bell tallied 12, while Caelan Sanders and Grant Strukel each contributed 11 points to the victory.

The winner between Blue Earth Area and St. Peter advances to the Section 2AA championship against either North Sub-Section No. 1 seed Jordan (22-3) or No. 2 seed Glencoe-Silver Lake (15-13) at 7:45 p.m. Friday night back at the Taylor Center in Mankato.

Ryan Samuelson poured in 27 points, including five 3-pointers, to help the Jordan Hubmen coast to a 72-52 sub-section semifinal triumph over Le Sueur-Henderson last week. Bryce Sievers contributed 16 points to Jordan’s balanced performance, while Ryan Friedges supplied 13 points.

Gabe Roepke generated 22 points, Mitchel Klockmann netted 20 points and Jaden Uecker produced 17 points to power Glencoe-Silver Lake to an 87-65 sub-section semifinal decision over Belle Plaine last week.

Jordan did defeat Glencoe-Silver Lake during the regular season, 74-58, back on Jan. 3 in Glencoe.

In Section 3AA action tonight, top-seeded St. James Area puts its 17-8 record against No. 2-seeded Jackson County Central’s mark of 18-9 in a 7 p.m. South Sub-Section final in Worthington. The game was originally set for Saturday, but was moved due to inclement weather.

Parker Jones netted 18 points, Lee Hillesheim tallied 11, Kobe Mohwinkel and Derrick Halvorson scored 10 each, while Peyton Hanson collected nine points, seven rebounds and six assists to power the Saints to a 58-52 sub-section semifinal win over Fairmont on Thursday night in Windom.

Andrew Hesebeck and the Huskies demonstrated their balanced attack in posting a 66-56 sub-section semifinal win over Pipestone Area. Hesebeck scored 19 points, Jack Brinkman sank four 3-pointers to account for 16 points, while Rudy Voss connected on three treys to pace his 15-point performance.

During a Feb. 2 head-to-head matchup in Jackson, the Saints defeated the Huskies, 56-48.

The winner between JCC and St. James Area will face either North Sub-Section No. 4 seed Redwood Valley (14-11) or No. 3 seed Morris Area/Chokio-Alberta (18-8) for the Section 3AA championship at 5 p.m. Thursday at Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall.

Redwood Valley squares off against MACA in a 7 p.m. sub-section final tonight in Willmar. The game also was originally scheduled for Saturday, but was postponed due to inclement weather.

Connor Josephson delivered an impressive double-double of 16 points and 17 rebounds, while teammate Cole Woodford scored 17 points to pace Redwood Valley’s 67-58 sub-section semifinal upset win over No. 1-seeded New London-Spicer last week.

Jaret Johnson accounted for 24 points and teammate Camden Arndt netted 13 points to power MACA’s 55-50 sub-section semifinal upset over No. 2 seed Minnewaska Area.

Redwood Valley and MACA did not play during the regular season.