Jaguars pass first test at state with flying colors

David Rodgers passes from the top of the key to James Kuefler in Thursday's state quarterfinal game. PHOTO BY RANDY OLSON

by Randy Olson

With a top seed to defend and a statement to send, the Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa boys' basketball team dismantled Park Christian in the Class 1A state quarterfinals on Thursday in Minneapolis.

Down 5-2 just 80 seconds into the game, the Jaguars fought through a total of six lead changes before their trademark defense took over the first half. They trailed 9-8, then got a baseline shot from Billy Borgerding. Then trailing 11-10, Tanner Heinsius knocked down a three-pointer to make it 13-11.

With 11:39 to go, Park Christian tied the game up but then hit a complete wall when the Jaguars picked it up another notch on defense. With 11:24 left, Brian Goodwin drained a rebound off of his own missed shot to start a 16-0 run that blew the game open in less than a four-minute span. Scoring followed from Tanner Heinsius, Borgerding and James Kuefler.

A free throw by Tanner Heinsius with 7:10 to go made it 29-13, and the blow out was on. Over the final seven minutes of the half, the Jaguars outscored the Falcons 18-5.

The same script played out in the second half, with each team trading baskets until the Jaguars pulled further away in the final 12 minutes. The Falcons finish their season 22-10 overall but holding a big feather in their cap for beating second-ranked Battle Lake in the section finals and making their first-ever state appearance.

Seven Falcons scored in the game compared to nine for B-B-E. Every Jaguar on the roster got in the game.

In his post-game interview with media, head coach Dave Montbriand commented, "We came out a little tight. That's happened a few times where the guys are trying too many things. Once we calmed down out there and got comfortable, we started getting some turnovers and playing our game. I think playing here before helped us a lot. Four of our players played significant minutes on Williams Arena's floor. You get more and more comfortable with the surroundings. I though we shot well, which plays out when you look at the statistics, so hopefully that continues tomorrow."

For the game, the Jaguars shot 37-for-66 on field goals (56.1 percent) and six-of-14 on the three-point line. They got to the line seven times and made five free throws. The Falcons shot just 38.1 percent in the first half and were 21-of-45 for the game (46.7 percent).

With a 29-1 record, the top-seeded Jaguars face fifth-seeded Fond du Lac in the semifinals at 12 p.m. at Target Center. The Fond du Lac Ogichadaag, Section 7A champions, are 25-3 overall after beating fourth-seeded Canby in the quarterfinals 85-82 in triple overtime. They were ranked 10th in the latest QRF calculations. To get to state, they beat South Ridge 77-60 in the section finals and Bigfork in the sub-section finals.

Click for the Herald photo gallery from the game (200+ photos)

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