Patriots capture South 3A title
Since all sporting events have been put on hold, enjoy this article from the Hills Crescent when the H-BC Patriots captured the South 3A title in 2011.
A surging Hills-Beaver Creek boys’ basketball team continued its impressive play during Saturday’s South Section 3A championship game at Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall.
Two days after knocking off second-seeded Southwest Christian in the semifinals, the third-seeded Patriots floored No. 1 Ellsworth 76-62 to capture their first tournament championship in six years.
The win sends the 23-6 Patriots back to SMSU Thursday, where they’ll take on MACCRAY in the Section 3A championship game.
The game begins at 5 p.m.
The section title tilt can’t begin soon enough for the Patriots, who have turned in two of their best performances of the season during their wins over SWC and EHS.
“I think it’s a matter of us coming together as a team,” said H-BC coach Steve Wiertzema, when asked about his team’s play in recent outings.
“We were missing some kids for one reason or another earlier. We’re finally getting the same people playing together now.”
H-BC’s cohesiveness as a unit proved to be too much for the Panthers to contend with Saturday.
Ellsworth, which had won the past five South Section 3A titles and defeated H-BC twice during the regular season, never sported a lead in Saturday’s battle.
H-BC scored the first seven points of the game on the way to building a nine-point (39-30) halftime advantage.
When the Patriots outscored EHS 37-32 in the second half, their 14-point victory was complete.
H-BC, which made 63 percent of its field goals against SWC in the semifinals, buried 56 percent of its attempts against the Panthers.
“We’re shooting the ball better as a team right now, but we’re also moving the ball around a lot better,” Wiertzema said.
“Our perimeter guys are hitting their shots and that is opening things up for our guys in the post.”
H-BC didn’t waste any time in flexing their offensive muscle against EHS early in Saturday’s game.
After the Patriots converted a pair of field goals, Jordan Larson canned a three-point shot to give H-BC a 7-0 lead 2:10 into the game.
EHS countered with 7-2 spurt and trailed 9-7 when Casey Schilling converted a field goal at the 13:57 mark, but H-BC answered the challenge with a 9-4 run ending with a field goal from Jeff Sandbulte that gave the Patriots an 18-11 advantage with 9:37 remaining in the stanza.
H-BC still led by seven (20-13) when EHS started a 5-0 surge that ended with the Panthers facing a 20-18 deficit when Schilling drained a three-point shot at the 7:18 mark of the first half.
A field goal by Schilling at 4:45 made it a two-point difference (23-21) once again, and another field goal by Ellsworth’s Dalton Huisman at 4:03 trimmed H-BC’s lead to one point (24-23).
The rest of the opening half belonged to H-BC.
An 11-0 run capped by a three-point shot from Karic Wiertzema gave the Patriots a 12-point (35-23) cushion with 2:18 remaining in the half.
EHS outscored the Patriots 7-4 the rest of the stanza to make it a 39-30 game at the break.
Ellsworth opened the second half with an 11-6 run ending with Schilling converting a three-point play at the 14:49 mark.
Schilling’s effort left EHS facing a 45-41 deficit, but that proved to be as close as the Panthers would come to catching the Patriots.
H-BC responded with an 8-2 run ending with Sandbulte turning an offensive round into a field goal and a 53-43 with 9:30 left to play.
The Patriots led by 11 (57-46) when Cory Tilstra tossed in a three-point shot at the 7:48 mark, but EHS fought back to trim H-BC’s advantage to seven points at three different occasions over the next five minutes.
H-BC put the game away with a 9-0 run featuring six-of-seven shooting from the charity stripe.
The run, which ended with Seth Nuffer canning a pair of free throws at the 1:41 mark, gave the Patriots their biggest lead of the game at 72-56.
EHS used a 6-4 scoring edge in the final 1:30 to make it a 14-point difference at game’s end, but it didn’t make the final outcome any better for the Panthers.
“We didn’t play well enough defensively to win this game,” said EHS coach Tyler Morris, who guided the Panthers to a 24-5 record this season.
“They hit five three-point shots in the first half that we didn’t contest, and (Karic) Wiertzema was getting some points inside the paint. We just didn’t do a very good job of playing post defense in the second half. We just were not a very good defensive team today.”
Wiertzema led the Patriots with 24 points and five assists in the contest.
Sandbulte (13 points), Nuffer (11 points, nine rebounds, three steals and three assists), Travis Helgeson (10 points and eight rebounds) and Larson (three assists) also turned in productive performances for H-BC.
Schilling led the Panthers with 34 points, 22 rebounds, five assists and three blocked shots. Travis Kvaale chipped in three steals.
Larson 2 1 1-2 8, Wiertzema 5 3 5-5 24, Tilstra 0 3 0-0 9, Vaughn 0 0 0-0 0, Luze 0 0 1-2 1, Sandbulte 2 2 3-6 13, Reese 0 0 0-0 0, Klarenbeek 0 0 0-0 0, Helgeson 3 0 4-4 10, Nuffer 3 0 5-7 11, Fransman 0 0 0-0 0, Streeter 0 0 0-0 0, Bass 0 0 0-0 0.
Nolte 0 1 0-0 3, Huisman 2 1 2-2 9, Ahlers 1 0 2-4 4, Schilling 9 4 4-5 34, Kvaale 3 0 0-1 6, Leuthold 1 0 0-0 2, Werner 0 0 0-0 0, DeBoer 0 0 0-0 0, Smith 0 0 0-0 0, Kramer 0 0 0-0 0, Herman 0 0 0-0 0, Cheskie 1 0 0-0 2.
H-BC: 24 of 43 field goals (56 percent), 19 of 28 free throws (68 percent), 24 rebounds, 10 turnovers.
Ellsworth: 22 of 60 field goals (37 percent), eight of 12 free throws (67 percent), 36 rebounds, nine turnovers.