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Waseca downs Blue Earth Area in South hoops finale

DOUBLE BLOCK — Blue Earth Area’s Sam Keister (45) and Gavin Storbeck (20) combine to block a shot by Waseca’s Ryan Dufault during the Section 2AA, South Sub-Section basketball championship game Monday night on the Minnesota State University campus in Mankato. The Bucs’ Cameron Anderson (3) and the Bluejays’ Matt Seberson (left) watch the action. (Photo by Greg Abel)

MANKATO — Ryan Dufault and Andrew Morgan combined to power the Class AA No. 2-ranked Waseca Bluejays to an appearance in the section championship.

Dufault and Morgan combined for 43 points in the Bluejays’ 56-36 win over the Blue Earth Area Bucs during the Section 2AA, South Sub-Section basketball championship Monday night at Bresnan Arena in Mankato.

The Bluejays (25-5) move on to face Jordan (21-7) in the Section 2 championship game back at Minnesota State University at 8 p.m. Friday. Jordan routed No. 7-ranked Minnesota Valley Lutheran 91-67 for the North Sub-Section championship.

The Bucs ended their season with a record of 14-11.

Braden Gudahl kept the Bluejays from taking the lead wire-to-wire when he moved around a Sam Keister screen and swooshed a left-corner 3 to give BEA the intial lead. Waseca then went on an 18-0 run to build a lead it would not give up.

Morgan scored eight of his 16 points during the opening run, then Dufault started a string of 11 out of the Bluejays’ next 13 points to build a 27-13 lead.

The Bucs came back after being held scoreless for nearly nine minutes, when Grant Strukel assisted Caelan Sanders for an up-and-under layup off a cutting drive through the lane.

Sanders scored again on a short jumper, then Cameron Anderson used a Gudahl assist for a right-wing 3 before hitting another from the same spot.

Sanders used an Anderson assist for a left-corner 3 and Keister hit a mid-range jumper off a Gavin Storbeck assist to get the Bucs within 27-18.

Keister and Storbeck teamed again for the same result, bringing the Bucs within seven — the closest they would get.

Zach Hoehn then used a Morgan assist for a Waseca left-wing trifecta before Kyreese Willingham hit two free throws.

Anderson sank a reverse layup and a floater in the lane for BEA and Dufault hit two free throws for the Bluejays to send the teams into the break at 34-24.

BEA head coach Colby Swanson said he was proud of the way the Bucs played in their final game.

“I was really happy with our performance, I thought we defended really well,” Swanson said. “We just didn’t knock down enough shots to be able to be in it in the last five minutes. We got good shots and against them (Waseca) you have to have close to no mistakes, and shots have to fall. I’m really happy with their (BEA) efforts and their attitudes, it’s a great way to end the season. Just too bad more shots didn’t fall.”

The Bucs started the second half nearly identically to the first. Zach Herrmann hit a right-corner trifecta off a Gudahl assist before BEA was held off the scoreboard until Herrmann was credited with two points on a tipped-in rebound off a Waseca player at the 5:30 mark.

BEA slowed down the game in the second half, holding the ball for 30 seconds to more than a minute on each possession.

“We had to spread the floor out against them,” Swanson said. ” … Our biggest advantage was to spread them out, to open them up and try to drive and kick to 3s. They’ve got two potential Division 1 players and a potential Division 2 player. Playing at their pace was not going to benefit us.”

Dufault scored 12 second-half points, while Morgan had eight to help the Bluejays build to a 22-point advantage with six minutes left.

Along with his 27 points, Dufault collected a game-high seven steals for the Bluejays, while Morgan reached a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Willingham totalled six points, five rebounds and four steals for Waseca.

Anderson led the Bucs with 10 points, while Keister had seven and three rebounds. Herrmann and Gudahl each had five points, with Herrmann adding five rebounds. Sanders scored seven points for the Bucs.

B.E. Area 24-12–36

Waseca 34-22–56

B.E. AREA (36)

Anderson 4-9 0-0 10, Sanders 3-7 0-0 7, Keister 3-7 0-0 7, Gudahl 1-4 2-2 5, Herrmann 2-5 0-0 5, Lloyd 1-2 0-0 2, Thielfoldt 0-3 0-0 0, Strukel 0-1 0-1 0, Barke 0-2 0-0 0, Morrow 0-1 0-0 0, Storbeck 0-0 0-0 0, Howard 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 14-41 2-3 36.

WASECA (56)

Dufault 9-13 8-9 27, Morgan 7-10 2-2 16, Willingham 2-8 2-2 6, Seberson 2-2 0-0 4, Hoehn 1-8 0-0 3, Ball 0-2 0-0 0, Hulscher 0-0 0-2 0, Bye 0-1 0-0 0, Mansfield 0-1 0-0 0, Lewer 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 21-45 12-15 56.

3-pointers: BEA 6-18; Waseca 2-16. Rebounds: BEA 21 (Herrmann 5; Waseca 25 (Morgan 10). Assists: BEA 7; Waseca 8 (Willingham 4). Steals: BEA 5; Waseca 11 (Dufault 7).

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