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B.E. Area hoopsters eliminate Maple River in 2AA playoff clash

BASELINE BASKET — Blue Earth Area Bucs’ post player Sam Keister (45) shoots a baseline shot over an unidentified Maple River defender during Section 2AA, South Sub-Section semifinal basketball action Thursday night at Mankato East High School in Mankato. The Bucs’ Zach Herrmann (25) watches the action. (Photo courtesy of Kevin Mertens/Faribault County Register)

MANKATO — Blue Earth Area sank 20 of 24 attempts from the charity stripe to propel the Bucs into the Section 2AA, South Sub-Section championship game.

No. 2-seeded BEA used its 20 points at the free throw line to take a 59-52 sub-section semifinal win over No. 3-seeded Maple River on Thursday night at Mankato East High School.

BEA (14-10) moves on to face No. 1-seeded and Class AA No. 2-ranked Waseca at 8 p.m. Monday at Minnesota State University in Mankato for the sub-section crown. Waseca beat No. 4-seeded Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton 83-52 in Thursday’s sub-section semifinals.

BEA head coach Colby Swanson said his team has been looking forward to Monday’s game all year.

“Obviously (Waseca) will be a tough test for us,” Swanson said. “But at the beginning of the season we wanted to be playing in this game Monday and we had to give ourselves an opportunity. We’ll do our best and see what comes.”

Maple River ended its season at 13-15.

The Bucs took a nine-point lead into halftime, then stormed ahead to a 20-point advantage in the first eight minutes of the second half.

Sam Keister got the scoring started in the second half with back-to-back free throws, then Braden Gudahl used one of Austin Thielfoldt’s game-high six assists for one of his four 3s.

Thielfoldt then had two opportunities at the line, hitting both, before Cameron Anderson turned a steal into a traditional three-point play for his first of a co-game-high 15 points.

Anderson then assisted Zach Herrmann for a layup before using a Thielfoldt assist for a left-corner 3 to go ahead 38-22 with 13:37 left in the matchup.

Thielfoldt hit two more free throws, Anderson sank two 2s and Herrmann used a post entry assist from Gudahl for 2 to build a 46-24 advantage for the Bucs with 10:24 left.

Both teams started slow in the first half, combining for only 10 points in the first eight minutes and less than 40 overall. Swanson said Maple River’s style of play led to the low-scoring opening segment.

“We know in playoff basketball, that’s how Maple River wants to play,” Swanson said. “They play really good interior defense, we knew from the first time we played them that that’s how they wanted to play. After we made some shots from the perimeter, they pulled outside a little bit and that opened up some gaps for us to get easier shots at the rim. The other thing, defensively we played really well.”

After scoring only two points in the first half, freshman Mason Schirmer took over for the Eagles in the second half.

Schirmer scored Maple River’s first five points out of the break, then kept the Eagles in the matchup with 13 second-half points, leading to his co-game high 15.

BEA maintained at least a 19-point advantage until the Eagles rallied late.

Trailing 54-34 with less than four minutes left, Will Sellers made two free throws and Schirmer assisted Ben Trio for a 3 before assisting Ethan McGregor for another to bring the Eagles within 55-42 at the 2:35 mark.

Schirmer drove for a layup, then Colin Bramer assisted Sellers for a left-corner 3 before Sellers turned a steal into a layup to bring the score to 59-49 with under a minute. Ryan Albrecht hit a right-wing 3 for the Eagles for the last points of the game.

To complement his 15 points, Anderson neared a double-double with nine rebounds, while adding four assists.

Thielfoldt scored nine points to go along with his six assists, while Gudahl scored 12 points on 4-for-5 shooting. Gavin Storbeck connected for 10 points, hitting two 3s and draining four free throws.

Herrmann brought down nine boards to help the Bucs’ efforts.

Sellers ended with 14 points for the Eagles, while Trio, Schirmer and Mason Frank each brought down four rebounds. Trio also tipped away four steals.

Maple River 14-38–52

B.E. Area 23-36–59

B.E. AREA (59)

Anderson 4-12 6-7 15, Gudahl 4-5 0-0 12, Storbeck 2-3 4-5 10, Thielfoldt 2-6 5-6 9, Herrmann 3-8 0-0 6, Keister 1-4 4-4 6, Sanders 0-1 1-2 1, Strukel 0-1 0-0 0, Lloyd 0-2 0-0 0, Morrow 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 16-43 20-24 59.

MAPLE RIVER (52)

Schirmer 7-10 1-3 15, Sellers 5-10 2-2 14, Fischer 4-10 0-5 8, Trio 2-9 1-2 7, McGregor 1-3 0-0 3, Albrecht 1-1 0-0 3, Niebuhr 1-1 0-0 2, Murphy 0-2 0-0 0, Frank 0-3 0-0 0, Sindelir 0-2 0-0 0, Bramer 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 21-52 4-12 52.

3-pointers: BEA 7-16 (Gudahl 4, Storbeck 2); MR 6-16 (Trio 2, Sellers 2). Fouled out: Frank (MR). Rebounds: BEA 34 (Anderson and Herrmann 9 each); MR 25 (Trio, Schirmer and Frank 4 each). Assists: BEA 12 (Thielfoldt 6, Anderson 4); MR 12 (Schirmer 3). Steals: BEA 8; MR 8 (Trio 3).

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