Boys basketball: ACGC to try and slow down R-P
A scouting report on Rushford-Peterson, ACGC’s first-round opponent in today’s Class A state tournament, would spell trouble for a lot of teams.
First, the Trojans are 29-1, with their only loss coming against 28-2 Caledonia, which won its opener in the Class AA tournament.
Second, R-P plays a deep bench and pressures the ball from baseline to baseline, sideline to sideline. One ball-handling mistake and the Trojans are off and running for an easy bucket.
But ACGC head coach Terry Miller and star guard Taylor Larson aren’t worried about the Falcons’ ability to deal with that type of game, even in the program’s first-ever state tournament game.
“They’re a team that comes out in a full-court press, and they fall back into a half-court press,” said Miller, whose 21-7 Falcons play R-P at 5 p.m. today at Williams Arena.
“They press off makes, they press off misses, they press in the middle of the floor, they press in the corners … ” Miller laughs as he pauses for breath.
“They try to generate a lot of points off defensive pressure,” he said. “We just have to take care of the ball.”
The Falcons have done that effectively all season, with a bench that is only one or two players deep.
Teams all season have tried to pressure the Falcons and wear them down, Miller said. Sometimes teams do it to their detriment, running out bench players who might otherwise not play in an effort to gas ACGC’s starting five.
R-P has 14 players who have appeared in 22 games or more, and they present a balanced attack, with seven players averaging between 5 points and the 11.2 averaged by leading scorer Alex Vix. Charlie Krambeer averages 11 per game and no Trojan averages more than 4.9 rebounds.
“My guys are used to playing the whole game,” Miller said. “Nobody plays at a faster tempo or wants to push the ball more than us. Our conditioning, I’m not concerned about that. (Rushford-Peterson) can play as many guys as they want to. I’m confident our guys will prevail in the end.”
Larson leads the Falcons averaging 22.1 points per game. Colton Minnick averages 14.4 points per game, David Kinzler averages 14 and Brody Larson goes for 12.2 per game.
Minnick leads ACGC with 9.2 rebounds per game and Adam Johnson, who averages 4.3 points, grabs 6.5 boards per game.
More important than stats, the Falcons “have a solid mindset for the game,” Larson said.
“We have good team chemistry going on right now,” he said. “We’re all getting along and we all just accept each other.”
The Falcons are prepared to cope with another kind of stress — a first state tournament appearance, he said.
“We’re not going to psyche ourselves out,” Larson said. “I think we’ll handle the pressure.”
The Falcons spoke only briefly about the death of ACGC schoolmate Zach Junkermeier, who was killed in a Montana avalanche on Tuesday.
“I told the team, that’s life: You don’t know what it will throw at you,” Miller said. “You have to live in the moment and take the curveballs as they come. Understand that it’s OK to be happy for our accomplishments and carry a heavy heart. We’re going to go and do the best we can.”
And the Falcons are of the belief that their best will match up well with any teams in the tournament. They also learned a good midseason lesson when the traveled to take on a depleted Sauk Centre team — which the Falcons defeated in overtime at home earlier in the season. The Mainstreeters, missing their top scorer and sixth man, thumped the Falcons 79-41.
“That was an eye-opener for us,” Miller said, “and we’ve been a lot smarter than that moving forward. My guys just find a way to knock down shots and win ball games. We’re comfortable with what we do and we’ll take our chances with that.”