Jaguars rally, claim state title!


A terrific moment for the Jaguars and their adoring fans: the final buzzer sounds at Target Center on the Class 1A state championship. B-B-E won by a 52-40 score. Photo by Randy Olson

by Randy Olson

If the Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa Jaguars thought that they had a rough shooting night in the state semifinals, they had no idea how tough the state championship would be. After making just nine of 30 field goal shots in the first half, the top-seeded Jaguars went into halftime down 25-21 against third-seeded Rushford Peterson. Something had to give in the second half, and the Jaguars knew they had to turn it around.

"I told them to stay calm. To stick to our game plan," said head coach Dave Montbriand about what his halftime speech revolved around.

"With this group of guys, I probably didn't even have to say that. They never panicked. They showed no sign of worry at halftime. They knew what they had to do."

What they did was come out firing and turn up the intensity on both ends of the floor. James Kuefler, who was unable to get any shot attempts off in the first half, promptly knocked down a 10-foot jumper just 10 seconds into the second half. His jumper with 13:54 left cut the deficit to one point at 27-26. Just two minutes later, Kuefler's layup tied the game at 30-30 after he scored his fourth field goal of the game.

"They (R-P) threw out a real solid trap on us in the first half. It continued to hurt us at a few points early in the second half. But we bore down and tightened up the passes, continued taking good shots and finally were getting them to drop," added Montbriand.

After the Trojans went ahead 34-30, the Jaguars got two free throws and then a three-point play from Brian Goodwin to forge their first lead of the second half at 35-34 with 9:05 to go. R-P would not lead the rest of the way. The fourth and fifth ties of the game followed, the last coming at the 6:14 mark when the Trojans got a layup from Jorli Hauge for a 39-39 score. It would be the last time R-P made a field goal.

From that point on, the Jaguars outscored the Trojans 13-1 while winning their second state championship in three years. Goodwin knocked down two bonus free throws with 5:29 to go for a 41-39 lead. His second shot at the line then proved to be the game winner.

The first half couldn't have started better than it did for B-B-E. Tanner Heinsius scored in the paint, and three minutes in, Trey Heinsius hit his team's only three-pointer. Tanner Heinsius got two more shots, and Brian Goodwin hit a layup with 13:29 left for an 11-0 start.

The Trojans stormed back to get their first lead of the game at 21-20 with 2:28 to go.

"We lost our rhythm. Looking back, perhaps it was some of the early subbing. I wanted to keep our legs fresh, but basketball is a game of flow and rhythm. We lost it for awhile in the game," said Montbriand.

At the break, the Jaguars had a 15-12 edge in rebounds and nine turnovers to R-P's 10 turnovers. Regardless of those statistics, though, their field goal shooting percentage was in the 30s (39.1 percent). The second half had to be better, or they were on their way to a repeat of 2011.

Following the final buzzer, player pileup at mid court and the medals ceremony, Goodwin said, "This is the greatest feeling to go out as winners like this. We wanted to do it for our fans, our coaches and our teammates."

Montbriand commented about his star senior point guard, "Brian showed great leadership today. He's our leader. We showed great teamwork, though, and without that we don't win this game. We play a variety of defensive sets, and today we needed every one of them."

The Jaguars finished the year 31-1 overall, while R-P ended with a 31-2 mark.

Don't miss extended stories of the state tournament in next week's Mar. 20 issue of the Sauk Centre Herald. More videos and other information is posted at http://bbejaguars.blogspot.com.

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