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BBE's Brian Goodwin avoids a block attempt by MACCRAY's Taylor Thissen and lays in two of his game-high 29 points during the Jaguars' 76-51 victory Saturday in Brooten. BBE has won 43 straight games and 75 of its last 76 games. Tribune photo by Tom Larson.

Boys Basketball: BBE defense too much for MACCRAY

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BROOTEN -- Prep basketball coaches having trouble convincing their teams that great defense leads to great offense should get some video of the BBE boys team’s game Saturday against MACCRAY.

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The Jaguars’ constant pressure and traps, quick feet and a tangle of long arms and legs in passing lanes led to numerous transition baskets and a 76-51 victory in a much-anticipated matinee game of state-ranked teams before a packed gym.

“We get a lot of points off our defense,” said BBE’s James Kuefler, who had 14 points and a game-high 11 rebounds. “We know we can always rely on defense. We try to close out and make it tough for teams to get into their offense. We get a lot of fast breaks and a lot of good looks.”

The Jaguars, the defending Class A state champions, improved to 10-0 and are ranked No. 2 this season. MACCRAY, which fell to 7-2, came into the game less than 18 hours after downing Tracy-Milroy-Balaton at home on Friday night. The Wolverines, who broke into the No. 10 spot in this week’s Class A poll, had a five-game win streak snapped.

BBE and MACCRAY don’t play often but they have a history, which helps explain the playoff-like atmosphere in the gym Saturday. The teams last met in March 2011, when BBE defeated MACCRAY in the Class A state semifinals. BBE lost to Springfield the next day in the title game – they haven’t lost since – while MACCRAY won the state third-place game.

On Saturday, BBE’s Brian Goodwin scored a game-high 29 points and he also had 7 rebounds, 6 assists and 4 steals. Trey Heinsius had 12 points and 4 steals. The Jaguars’ defensive work was key in blunting a MACCRAY rally in the first half and then wearing down the Wolverines after halftime.

BBE led by a dozen in the first eight minutes but MACCRAY regrouped and shaved the Jaguars’ lead to four, 26-22, with about eight minutes left before halftime. Unfazed, BBE needed only five minutes to outscore MACCRAY 13-2 to reestablish control. They had the lead between 15 and 20 points most of the second half.

“We did struggle with their pressure,” said MACCRAY head coach Tyler Anderson. “Their length and their trapping were the difference. This was a good game for us. It’s humbling for us as a coach and team but we see all the things we need to work on.”

Carter Asche, who led the Wolverines with 19 points, said the Wolverines’ confidence isn’t shaken by the loss.

“They’re a quick team and we had trouble getting back on defense,” Asche said. “They killed us on fast break baskets. But we know what we have to do. It’s not skill, it’s effort.”

BBE has perfected the skill-effort combination like few other teams before it. Saturday’s victory marked the Jaguars’ 43rd straight win and they have won 75 of their last 76 games. They have won 71 straight regular-season games and 52 straight home games, leaving them four shy of the state record (Esko won 56 in a row from 1973 to 1979).

The team doesn’t try to ignore the streaks but usually only feel compelled to talk about them when someone asks, Kuefler said.

“We really don’t think about it,” Kuefler said. “We know we just have to keep going and be ready every game.”

BBE’s schedule makes the even-keel approach vital. The Jaguars play eight of their next 10 games on the road, including a big Jan. 31 road game against Melrose, which is 8-1 and winning by an average of 28 points per game. The Dutchmen defeated previously undefeated St. Cloud Cathedral by 28 points in the Crusader Classic championship game last week.

“These guys don’t show a lot of emotion,” said BBE head coach Dave Montbriand. “They don’t get way up and they don’t get down, which is a good thing.”

BBE 76, MACCRAY 51

MACCRAY…………29 22 – 51

BBE…………………..45 31 – 76

MACCRAY – 17-40 FG (5-18 3-pt); 11-15 FT; 19 rebounds; 20 fouls … Scoring: Jacob Aviles 2, Caleb Melin 2, Cody Boonstra 3, Carter Asche 19, Taylor Thissen 7, Bailey Boike 18 … Rebound leaders: Thissen 3, Boike 3, Asche 3 … Assist leaders: Thissen 4, Aviles 2 … Steal leaders: Boonstra 3

BBE – 29-66 FG (5-17 3-pt); 13-20 FT; 36 rebounds; 16 fouls … Scoring: Alex Wosmek 2, Trey Heinsius 12, Austin Imdieke 2, Brian Goodwin 29, David Rodgers 4, James Kuefler 14, Billy Borgerding 11, Nick Benton 2 … Rebound leaders: Kuefler 11, Goodwin 7 … Assist leaders: Goodwin 6 … Steal leaders: Heinsius 4, Goodwin 4

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Tom Larson

Tom Larson is the sports editor of the West Central Tribune.

(320) 214-4372
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