Viking comeback falls short at Tyler
When Minneota’s B squad came back from a deficit at halftime to beat Russell-Tyler-Ruthton, 52-47 Thursday night, it seemed to be an omen.
The tiny Tyler gymnasium was “electric”, and packed to the gills as basketball fans from all over gathered to watch the area’s two best teams tangle.
Most of the Lakeview boys’ basketball team was there to watch. Former Minneota B squad Coach Michael Bliss drove three and a half hours to watch his former players.
The fact the 17-0 Knights were hosting the 16-1 Vikings had not escaped anyone’s attention.
And it lived up the hype, with RTR surviving a furious Minneota comeback to hold on for a 60-52 win.
Bliss walked up to his friend and Minneota Head Coach Dave Busselman after the game and Busselman said, “Give me a phone call when you figure out what I should do next time.”
It was about the only bit of levity the coach could offer. But it also had a grain of truth since the two teams will meet again in a couple of weeks in Minneota.
Coach Busselman kept repeating the phrase he felt was truth. “They’re beatable,” he said.
“At least now we know we can play with them,” he added.
When RTR raced out to a 21-9 lead by using the outside shooting of Garrett Kern and the baseline moves of Westin Kirk, it looked like a long night for Minneota.
But Busselman brought his troops together and “shut down the back door,” not allowing Kirk and gang to use the baseline. The coach went to a man-to-man defense and began to put pressure on the RTR guards, twins Cooper and Carter Hansen.
“We just tried to stay with them longer,” said Coach Busselman. Thomas Hennen’s three-point shooting and another long-range shot by Jared Josephson slowly brought the Vikings back.
After trailing 30-17, the Vikings crept to within six at the half 33-27.
“We were not running a real good offense. They’re a good defensive team,” the coach said.
But Minneota had it’s problems at the half. Nolan Boerboom had four fouls and the offense and the Vikings were “rushing” their shots.
Busselman tried to fix the problems and it seemed to work.
Minneota came out and charged back into the game, getting Logan Sussner involved underneath as Minneota finally took the lead at 42-41 with 10:17 to go on a bucket by Thomas Hennen.
They were tied at 48 with 5:39 to go when Kirk scored for a 50-48 Knight lead and Minneota got the lead back.
While RTR only made half of the 28 free throws they took, Kern, Cooper Hansen and Kirk hit enough down the stretch to make life miserable for the Vikings. “They made their free throws at the end. Playing from behind was tough to do,” said Coach Busselman.
“The Vikings, whose turnovers vaulted from 11 midway through the second half to 19 by games end, made too many mistakes down the stretch. Boerboom eventually fouled out with 3:54 too; Thomas Hennen couldn’t get his shots to land nobody else was able to “tickle the net” for points.
“We didn’t back down. We were not scared of their press. Oh, it did hurt us at times, but we kept going at them,” said Coach Busselman.
Minneota actually out-rebounded RTR, 38-32, a fact the coach that was, “Something we had to do.”
Thomas Hennen ended with 24 points and six, three-pointers. Sussner scored 14 points but no other Viking got into double figures.
Jacob Hennen was a “demon” on the boards, gathering in 11 rebounds and Isaac Hennen took down nine more, with Sussner and Thomas Hennen gathering in seven each.
Josephson was credit with a solid defensive game as he also ran the Minneota offense from his point guard position..
But with Kern scoring 20; Kirk 14; Cooper Hanson 10 and Jonah Johnson nine, the balanced assault was just too much for Minneota to handle.
Yet, even that gave Busselman some reason for hope. “When you hold Kirk to just 14 you should win the ball game,” he said.
He left the court announcing, “We play them at home next time. We’re not intimidated.”
RTR 60, Minneota 52
MINNEOTA (2’s, 3’s, FT, F, TP) Jared Josephson 0 1 0-0 3 3; Thomas Hennen 6 2 2-3 4 24; Logan Sussner 4 0 6-9 3 14; Isaac Hennen 3 0 0-0 4 6; Jacob Hennen 1 1 0-0 3 5; Nolan Boerboom 0 0 0-0 5 0; Mitchell Rost 0 0 0-0 0 0; Tristan Sorensen 0 0 0-0 2 0. Totals 9 8 8-13 24 52.
RTR (2’S, 3’S, FT, F, TP) Jonah Johson 3 1 0-2 3 9; Brett Kelley 0 1 0-0 0 3; Carter Hansen 1 0 2-6 2 4; Garrett Kern 7-11 3 20; Cooper Hansen 3 1 1-3 2 10; Westin Kirk 5 0 4-6 4 15 Totals 14 6 14-26 15 60.
Score by Halves
Minneota 27 25 — 52
RTR 33 27 — 60
SHOOTING: Minneota 17 of 51 for 33 percent; RTR 20 of 62 for 38 percent.
FREE THROWS: Minneota 8 of 13 for 71 percent; RTR 14 of 26 for 58 percent.
REBOUNDS: Minneota 38 (Jacob Hennen 11; Isaac Hennen 8; Sussner, Thomas Hennen 7 each: Josephson 3; Boerboom, Sorensen 1 each); RTR 32 (Johnson 12; Cooper Hansen 8; Kern, Hansen, Kirk 4 each; Kelley 1).
TURNOVERS: Minneota 19; RTR 9.
STEALS: Minneota 3 (Thomas Hennen, Isaac Hennen, Jacob Hennen 1 each); RTR 6 (Cooper Hansen, Kirk 2 each, Johnson, Carter Hansen 1 each).
BLOCKS: Minneota (Thomas Hennen 1); RTR 1 (Kirk 1).
B SQUAD: Led by the 20 points of Alex Saltzer, Minneota came back from trailing at half to win, 52-47. Saltzer hit a big shot near the end and despite the fact Minneota missed six straight free throws, they were able to hold on to win.