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No. 1 Waseca downs B.E. Area for South Sub-Section hoops crown

CHALLENGE — Blue Earth Area’s Sam Keister (45) and Gavin Storbeck (4) challenge a shot by Waseca’s Andrew Morgan during the Section 2AA, South Sub-Section basketball championship game Wednesday night in Waseca. The Bucs’ Cameron Anderson (23) and Braden Gudahl (far right) watch the action. (Photo by Greg Abel)

WASECA — Waseca’s school staff hung up new nets Wednesday night and the Bluejays boys basketball team snapped them all game.

The Class AA No. 1-ranked and top-seeded Waseca Bluejays made 35 of 55 shots from the field for 63.6 percent to build an 86-65 win over the No. 2-seeded Blue Earth Area Bucs during the Section 2AA, South Sub-Section championship in Waseca.

Waseca moves on to face North Sub-Section champion Glencoe-Silver Lake at 7 p.m. Friday for the sectional crown in Glencoe. No. 2-seeded GSL beat No. 1-seeded Jordan 92-81 to advance.

Waseca’s group of Mr. Basketball watchlist seniors led the Bluejays.

Both Ryan Dufault, a St. Thomas preferred walk-on commit, and Andrew Morgan, a North Dakota State University commit, are in the top 10 for Minnesota’s top male basketball player, while Kyreese Willingham, a Minnesota State University-Mankato commit, was on this season’s watchlist.

Morgan led the game with 27 points and seven rebounds to complement four assists, Dufault scored 16 points, dished out six assists and poked away four steals and Willingham dropped 14 points, dished out six assists and brought down four boards.

“It’s a really rare thing, three of them were nominated for Mr. Basketball and two of them are still in the running,” Waseca head coach Seth Anderson said of his team’s senior leaders. “And then the role players come in and do such a good job. It’s such a good group and they all just fit so well together.

“We’re just gonna have to keep defending well, that’s what it comes down to in playoff time. You can’t control making shots all the time, but you can always control where you are defensively.”

Matt Seberson added 20 points on 10-for-10 shooting for the Bluejays.

The Bucs end their season with a record of 15-5.

“I feel like we met our expectations we had at the beginning of the season,” BEA head coach Colby Swanson said. “Ending 15-5, making it to the sub-section championship, those were things we wanted to do. We knew two years ago when Waseca got placed in our sub-section that it would be a tough road ahead. This is our third straight sub-section final and out of our three years, this was the toughest road to get there. To be playing in this game, we were really happy to be here, unfortunately we have the No. 1 team in the state in our sub-section.”

Waseca jumped ahead early. Morgan dished an assist from the high post to Seberson in the low post for the game’s first points, but Gavin Storbeck answered with a right-corner 3 off a Cam Anderson assist to give the Bucs their only lead of the game less than a minute into the action.

Willingham then pulled up from the left wing for a mid-range jumper to put the Bluejays back in front before Dufault stole a pass and hit a pull-up shot from the free throw line.

Dufault then dribbled around a Seberson screen for a left-wing 3 to put Waseca ahead 9-3.

Austin Thielfoldt drove to a short jumper for the Bucs, then Zach Hoehn used a Dufault assist for a left-corner 3 to extend the Bluejays advantage.

Braden Gudahl then hit two free throws for the Bucs, giving him the first two of his team-high 15 points.

The Bluejays extended their advantage as far as 30-13 in the first half, then the Bucs went on an 11-2 run to come back.

Gudahl used a post-spin move for 2, then Thielfoldt pulled up from the free throw line after dribbling around a Sam Keister screen.

Gudahl then assisted Ashton Lloyd for a 3 from the right wing to bring the Bucs within 32-23, but Dufault ended the Bluejays’ two-minute scoreless streak when he used a Willingham assist on a cutter through the lane.

Gudahl assisted Lloyd with an inbound pass into the post, then Thielfoldt turned a steal into two free throws to shrink the Waseca advantage to 34-27 with 5:55 left.

The Bluejays answered with a 13-4 run to head into halftime with a 47-31 lead.

“We had outstanding effort, I was really proud of how we battled in the second half,” Swanson said. “We got it to 14 points, and we did absolutely everything we could on the defensive end. They’re (Waseca) just really good offensively. Our shot selection was really good all night. … I can’t say enough about this senior class, how well they come with energy and effort every night, how much they’ve grown. They came out and they weren’t intimidate by a really good team. This senior class has kind of changed a lot of perceptions about Blue Earth Area basketball and I’m proud of their efforts.”

Waseca maintained a lead of at least 14 points throughout the second half.

Along with his 15 points, Gudahl led the Bucs with five assists to complement five rebounds, while Anderson had 12 points.

Keister scored 10 points and brought down a team-high six rebounds for BEA, while Thielfoldt had nine points and Storbeck scored six points to complement four rebounds.

B.E. Area 31-34–65

Waseca 47-39–86

B.E. AREA (65)

Gudahl 5-11 2-2 15, Anderson 4-9 1-2 12, Keister 5-8 0-0 10, Thielfoldt 3-8 3-4 9, Lloyd 3-5 0-0 7, Storbeck 2-3 0-0 6, Howard 1-2 0-0 3, Torres 1-2 0-0 2, Carr 0-1 1-2 1, J. Norman 0-0 0-0 0, L. Norman 0-1 0-0 0, Douglas 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 24-50 7-10 65.

WASECA (86)

Morgan 9-11 8-12 27, Seberson 10-10 0-0 20, Dufault 6-12 2-2 16, Willingham 7-17 0-3 14, Hoehn 3-5 0-0 9, Ball 0-0 0-0 0, Mansfield 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 35-55 10-17 86.

3-pointers: BEA 10-23 (Gudahl 3-7, Anderson 3-6, Storbeck 2-3, Lloyd 1-2, Howard 1-2, Thielfoldt 0-1, Torres 0-1, L. Norman 0-1); WAS 6-13 (Hoehn 3-5, Dufault 2-5, Morgan 1-1, Willingham 0-2). Fouled out: Keister. Rebounds: BEA 24 (Keister 6, Gudahl 5, Storbeck 4); WAS 19 (Morgan 7, Willingham 4, Dufault 3). Assists: BEA 11 (Gudahl 5); WAS 22 (Willingham & Dufault 6 each, Morgan 4). Steals: BEA 6; WAS 12 (Dufault 4). Blocks: BEA 2 (Keister 2); WAS 1 (Morgan 1).

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