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Connor Goodwin, left, of Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa looks for an open teammate while being pressured by Scott Lampton of Norman County East in the first half Friday in the Section 6A championship at UM-Morris. (Tribune photo by Rand Middleton)

BBE earns first state trip for boys basketball

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MORRIS -- So far, Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa could hardly ask for anything more.

There's a conference title, a sub-section title and now the first ever section championship trophy after whipping Norman County East 66-39 behind crushing defense Friday in the 6A trophy game.

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Oh, yes - the Jaguars are headed to the Class A state tournament at 30-0.

BBE will play Goodhue (24-7), the Section 1A champion, at 11 a.m. on Thursday at Williams Arena in Minneapolis.

The Eagles (22-7) scored 24 points below their season average.

"They're a tremendous team," said NCE coach Mike Sather. "Their defense took us out of our flow. We couldn't get the ball into our center, Scott LaPort, and they made our kids speed up. When that happens you shoot a low percentage."

This was BBE's fifth section final. Neither Belgrade nor Brooten high schools ever made state in boys basketball either before the merger in 1988.

The Jaguars had their usual balance on offense with four in low double figures led by Kirby Montbriand with 15. Brent Koehler followed with 12, thanks to four 3-pointers, then came Brady Koehler with 11 and Connor Goodwin with 10, plus four blocks.

Kevin Kuefler, the season's high scorer at 19 points per game, had a quiet night with six points while dealing seven assists.

"These guys amaze me," said BBE head coach David Montbriand. "All year, they just keep topping themselves, but it's all about defense. The way we scrap it looks like six guys out there."

The Eagles struggled to set up an offense, often getting trapped in the corners with no escape.

The underdogs against the top-ranked Jaguars played their best basketball early. The Eagles trailed just 18-17 after back-to-back baskets by Devin Andersen, but then BBE went on a 12-0 surge for a 30-17 lead at 3:00 of the first half.

It was 32-23 at half.

"We played a good first half," said the Eagles' Andersen, who finished with a team-high 10 points. "We made some bad mistakes and we had some turnovers trying to go a little to fast. But we had a great year; the seniors led us and the coaches were great to us."

Tyler Bueng added seven points for the Eagles. Scott Lampton finished with five points, five rebounds and three steals.

The Eagles went cold in the second-half scoring just nine points in the last 10 minutes.

Connor Goodwin, a 6-6 junior center, said the team had confidence right from the start of the season.

"We kind of knew we had the upper hand in the (section)," he said. "Tonight is the best feeling I've ever had."

BBE, which lost out in the sub-section final in 2010, is 79-9 over the last three seasons.

"We have a different hero every night," said coach Montbriand. "Someone always picks us up."

BBE 66, Norman County East 39

NCE (22-7) 23 16 -- 39

BBE (30-0) 32 34 -- 66

NORMAN COUNTY EAST - 14-32 FG (4-10 3-pt); 7-14 FT; 21 rebounds; 16 fouls ... Scoring: Aaron Bommersbach 3, Tyler Bueng 7, Matt Anderson 3, Blaine Thronson 2, Devin Andersen 10, Anthony Sather 2, Adam Aune 3, Scott Lampton 5, Nathan LaPort 4 ... 3-point shots: Bommersbach 1, Bueng 1, Aune 1, Andersen 1 ... Rebound leaders Lampton 5 ... Assist leader: LaPort 3 ... Steal leaders: Lampton 3, Bommersbach 3

BELGRADE-BROOTEN-ELROSA - 24-54 FG (6-13 3-pt); 12-21 FT; 33 rebounds; 11 fouls ... Scoring: Brian Goodwin 3, Casey Murdock 1, Kevin Kuefler 6, Brent Koehler 12, James Kuefler 6, Brandon Dekok 2, Brady Koehler 11, Kirby Montbriand 15, Connor Goodwin 10 ... 3-point shots: Brent Koehler 4, Montbriand 2 ... Rebound leaders: Brady Koehler 7, Montbriand 5, C.Goodwin 5 ... Assist leaders: K.Kuefler 7, B.Goodwin 4 ... Steal leaders: B.Goodwin 5 ... Blocks: C.Goodwin 4

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Rand Middleton

Covers Willmar and area high schools and Ridgewater College, plus amateur baseball, stock car racing and fitness events in summer. Writes weekly column since 1980. Began working in radio and at weekly newspaper in Munising, Michigan, in 1972. Started parttime at West Central Daily Tribune Sept. 1974. Fulltime beginning Feb. 1979. Married to Tribune news clerk Donna (Miller) Middleton, formerly of Kerkhoven. 2 grown children. 

(320) 214-4334
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