Jaguars knock out Knights in Section 2A basketball opener

AT THE RIM — Jaguars’ center Cael Jaskulke (left) elevates to contest a shot by the Knights’ Carter Newman during Section 2A, South Sub-Section playoff action Thursday night in Northrop. (Photo by Charlie Sorrells)

NORTHROP — Truman/Martin Luther/Granada-Huntley-East Chain’s boys basketball team converted swarming defense into instant offense to open the Section 2A, South playoffs.

Carter Spear produced a game-best 21 points and distributed a game-high six assists, while Adam Heckman delivered a double-double performance to power the No. 6-seeded Jaguars to a 78-30 first-round postseason rout over the No. 11-seeded Alden-Conger Knights on Thursday night.

The Jaguars (19-8) advance to face No. 3-seeded Mountain Lake Area/Comfrey in a 7 p.m. sub-section quarterfinal Saturday night in Mountain Lake. The Wolverines netted a first-round bye.

Alden-Conger ended its season with a 2-23 record.

“We (coaching staff) made sure we kept the players from thinking too far ahead tonight,” said Jaguars head coach Adam Walker. “We beat them (the Knights) by 25 (60-35) near the end of January (23rd), but that means nothing.

“I know it sounds cliche, but everybody’s 0-0 starting playoff time.”

The all-out hustling Spear consistently filled the fastbreak lanes early and often, and also served as the Jaguars’ catalyst by finding open teammates for basket after basket.

“Carter Spear played an unbelievable game tonight — maybe his best of the year overall,” said Walker. “I thought our two seniors (Spear and Cayden Fischer) really sparked us early behind their defensive play.

“We got a lot of open looks on the offensive end because of how well we played defensively.”

After Isaac Burgett sank two free throws to inch Alden-Conger within 12-11 with 13 minutes remaining in the opening half, the trio of Adam Heckman, Spear and Owen Wolter turned up the defensive intensity to trigger a 28-0 offensive avalanche. Anthony Graham’s solo free throw ended the Knights’ scoring drought with 1:28 left before intermission.

Adam Heckman, who collected 16 points and grabbed a game-best 10 rebounds to complement three blocks and three steals, cleaned the offensive glass for a putback to trigger the Jaguars’ impressive surge.

Wolter threaded one of his three assists to a breaking Spear for a layup, Fischer sank a solo free throw, Spear fed Adam Heckman for a traditional 3-point play and Cael Jaskulke tossed in a putback to double the Jaguars’ lead to 22-11. Jaskulke finished with nine points and seven boards.

Adam Heckman then displayed his long-distance shooting prowess by swooshing back-to-back 3s off assists from Matt Heckman and Wolter to extend the hometown team’s lead to 28-11 at the 6:26 mark.

Spear utilized a duck-under scoop move to continue the Jaguars’ prosperity, Fischer converted a traditional 3-point play and Wolter drilled a left-wing 3-pointer. Spear then garnered a steal-turned-layup before the senior guard spotted Jaskulke in the lane for two points and a 40-11 lead.

Adam Heckman and Spear then combined to highlight the Jaguars’ 12-2 run to open the second half and a 57-16 lead with 13 minutes remaining. Both Heckman and Spear cashed in three-point play chances inside the arc during the scoring surge.

Alden-Conger 12-18–30

TMLGHEC 45-33–78


A. Heckman 5-8 4-6 16, Spear 9-16 2-3 21, M. Heckman 2-8 0-0 4, Fischer 4-6 3-5 11, Wolter 1-4 0-0 3, Jaskulke 3-4 2-4 9, Moeller 2-4 0-0 4, Bowers 0-0 0-0 0, Grathwohl 1-2 2-4 4, Kube 0-1 1-3 1, Kruse 1-3 2-2 5. Totals 28-56 16-27 78.

A-C (30)

Nemec 1-8 0-0 2, Cummings 2-3 2-2 7, Burgett 1-6 2-2 4, Springer 1-3 0-0 2, Miller 1-4 0-0 2, Newman 1-5 0-0 2, Greenfield 0-1 0-0 0, Erkkila 3-6 0-0 8, Redman 0-2 0-0 0, Renaux 1-5 0-0 2, Bolinger 0-2 0-0 0, Graham 0-1 1-2 1. Totals 11-46 5-6 30.

3-pointers: TMLGHEC 6-16 (A. Heckman 2, Spear 1, Wolter 1, Jaskulke 1, Kruse 1); Alden-Conger 3-20 (Erkkila 2, Cummings 1). Rebounds: TMLGHEC 33 (A. Heckman 10, Jaskulke 7); Alden-Conger 31 (Nemec and Erkkila 5 each). Assists: TMLGHEC 13 (Spear 6, Fischer and Wolter 3 each); A-C 2. Steals: TMLGHEC 16 (Wolter 4, Fischer, A. Heckman and Spear 3 each); A-C 6.

Worthington 72, Blue Earth Area 67 — Brock Bruns erupted for a game-best 32 points to power the Trojans to a five-point regular-season victory over the Bucs on Thursday night.

Cameron Anderson topped a balanced Bucs’ scoring attack by netting 19 points, Sam Keister generated 18 points, while Braden Gudahl delivered 14 points.

BEA (12-10) hosts New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva at 7 p.m. Saturday night in a Section 2AA, South quarterfinal.


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