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B.E. Area’s Anderson nets Sentinel All-Area player of year award

ALL-AREA PLAYER OF THE YEAR — Blue Earth Area senior Cameron Anderson (right) elevates before firing a running jumper over St. Peter defender Bennett Olson during Big South Conference regular-season basketball action in Blue Earth. Anderson has been selected as the Fairmont Sentinel’s All-Area boys basketball player of the year. (Photo by Greg Abel)

BLUE EARTH — From high-flying alley-oop finishes to outside shooting to smothering defense, Cameron Anderson did it all for the Blue Earth Area Bucs’ basketball team this year.

Blue Earth Area head coach Colby Swanson said Anderson’s unique athleticism made him tough for anyone to stop.

“His biggest strength on the court is his athleticism and his ability to get to the basket,” Swanson said. “And he’s a great shooter, but his ability to get to the basket makes him a player that can be close to impossible to defend, especially when he’s in the open floor. There’s no stopping him, he is so quick, he’s so athletic. In the open floor, he’s almost unguardable.”

That ability to get to the rim led Anderson to a team-leading 316 seasonal points on 119-for-222 field-goal shooting for 53.6 percent.

Blue Earth Area played to Anderson’s strengths to start every game, running a play off the opening jump ball to feed Anderson as he sprinted toward the hoop for a layup.

Anderson didn’t only succeed on offense when he got to the rim, though. He shot 40.3 percent from beyond the 3-point arc, making 27 of 67 attempts in the team’s 20 games, while sinking 51 of 73 free throws for 69.8 percent, helping lead to his all-Big South Conference selection.

Anderson’s offensive success left him as Blue Earth Area’s all-time leading scorer, but Swanson said that’s not the only impact he made for the Bucs program.

“Cam has meant so much to our program,” Swanson said. “… He is so good at making his teammates better. That’s one thing that helps, when the best player on your team is unselfish, is coachable and does whatever is asked of him from game to game.

“That is a huge difference maker in the success of a team when your best player is willing to do those things.”

Anderson’s ability to help his teammates led the Bucs to a 15-5 record and their third consecutive appearance in the Section 2AA, South-Sub Section championship game.

Swanson said one thing Anderson worked on going into this season was his physicality, which helped in the team’s final postseason matchup with eventual 2021 Class AA state champion Waseca.

“He developed the confidence to get the ball to the basket when players were more physical with him,” Swanson said. “That’s one thing in the past that he struggled with is when he faced the more physical defender, he wasn’t as aggressive. And he definitely improved in that area this year.

In the last game of the season against Waseca, he showed that aggressiveness by scoring 12 points against Kyreese Willingham, maybe the best defender he went up against all year.”

Anderson complemented his season-long scoring success by distributing 45 assists, in addition to collecting 99 rebounds, 40 steals and 10 blocks to help lead the Bucs as a second-year captain.

“Cam is an extremely quiet kid, but over the last two seasons, he’s been a captain … and he’s taken on more of a vocal leadership role,” Swanson said. “He’s the one guy on our team that everybody really … looks toward even though he’s not vocal. He’s a guy that that leads by example. And when he does speak, his teammates listen.”

For his many successes in the 2021 boys basketball season, Anderson has been named the Sentinel All-Area player of the year. Here’s an inside look at the rest of this year’s team.

Braden Gudahl (Blue Earth Area) — The outside shooter.

Gudahl, a 6-foot senior, connected from outside the 3-point arc on 40.3 percent of his attempts — 48-for-119 — in his final campaign.

The guard added the same amount of makes on fewer attempts from 2-point range, 48-for-80, to bring his total shooting percentage to 48.2 for the season, while connecting on 56 of 76 free throws for 73.7 percent.

The all-Big South selection also dished out 55 assists to help the BEA offense, while stealing 19 passes, blocking seven shots and bringing down 82 total boards for the Bucs.

Gudahl’s success helped lead BEA to its third consecutive appearance in the Section 2AA South Sub-Section championship game.

Adam Heckman (Truman/Martin Luther/ Granada-Huntley-East Chain) — The double-double machine.

Heckman, a 6-6 junior, controlled the post for the Jaguars, averaging a double-double of 18 points per game and 10.2 rebounds per contest in the team’s 18 games.

Heckman shot an incredible 70 percent from the field to amass a team-leading 324 points, while also making 32 percent of his shots from behind the 3-point arc, making 11 of 34 attempts.

Heckman’s point total pushed him over 1,000 on his career, while the 184 rebounds he brought down also put him over the 500 mark with one high school season remaining.

The powerful defender also poked away 31 assists and blocked 21 shots, while helping his teammates on the offensive end with 39 assists.

Heckman helped lead the Jaguars to a 12-6 record in his junior campaign, garnering his third all-Valley Conference selection and third All-Area spot.

Zach Jorgensen (Fairmont) — The all-arounder.

Jorgensen did it all this season, leading Fairmont in five statistical categories.

The 6-3 point forward scored a team-leading 270 points, or an even 15 per game in the team’s 18 contests, while bringing down a team-high 134 rebounds, almost 50 more than his closest teammate.

The junior didn’t do it by himself, though, as he dished out a team-leading 82 assists. Jorgensen complemented his offensive stats with 29 steals and eight blocks, both leading the Cardinals.

Jorgensen hit 49 percent of his shots from the field, 104-for-210, while making 63 percent from the charity stripe, 52-for-82.

The all-Big South Conference selection helped lead the Cardinals to a 7-11 record and an appearance in the Section 3AA, South Sub-Section semifinal.

Zach Anderson (Martin County West) — The high flier.

The sophomore standout led the Mavericks once again, scoring 362 points for 18.1 per game in 20 matchups on 50 percent shooting from close range.

Anderson hit 99 of 191 shots from 2-point territory, complementing 28-for-63 shooting from 3-point range for 44 percent, while hitting 80 of 108 tries from the charity stripe for 74 percent.

The forward also led the Mavericks on the defensive glass, bringing down a team-high 180 rebounds for an average of nine per game, complementing 48 assists — second on the team.

Anderson also pocketed a team-leading 43 steals and recorded a team-high 18 blocks, helping lead the Mavericks to an 11-9 record, including one five-game and one four-game winning streak.

Anderson’s success led to his second consecutive all-Valley Conference selection and another spot on the Sentinel’s All-Area team.

Tanner Sinn (Martin County West) — The beast on the offensive glass.

The Mavericks’ other leading forward came on down the stretch of the season, regularly notching double-double performances on his way to 218 points and 165 rebounds during his junior prep season.

Sinn’s team-leading strength came under the offensive basket, though, where he garnered a team-high 72 rebounds, doubling Anderson’s second-leading total of 36.

Sinn also neared Anderson’s team-leading steals total, poking away 40 to Anderson’s 43.

Sinn hit 90 of 221 shots from short range — 40 percent — while sinking 38 of 73 free throws for 52 percent.

Sinn’s production helped lead the Mavericks to an appearance in the Section 2A, South Sub-Section semifinal.

Gage Madden (North Union) — The senior leader.

The 5-11 guard nearly doubled his closest teammate’s production with 259 points in his senior campaign, while adding a team-high 108 rebounds for the Warriors.

The senior standout averaged 12.3 points per game and 5.1 caroms per contest in the team’s 21 outings.

Madden also led the Warriors in steals with 35, while dishing out 35 assists — second on the team.

The Top of Iowa Conference honorable mention selection shot 39.1 percent from the field, hitting 110 of 281 shots, while making just under 30 percent from beyond the arc — 19-for-64.

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