Springfield faces uphill battle in final
MINNEAPOLIS -- A legend fell on Friday, forcing a catfight for the Class A championship of the state boys basketball tournament today.
Chisholm coach Bob McDonald, who has over 950 wins and has won three state titles among 11 state appearances in his 56 years at the helm, saw his chance for another title fade away when Springfield outlasted the Bluestreaks 63-55 in overtime in the semifinals on Friday at Target Center.
That leaves the Tigers and Jaguars to match claws in the final today at noon at Target Center. Let the fur fly.
"Four years ago we had three wins," said Springfield junior guard Alex Fink after the game. "Who would have ever thought we'd be here now?"
BBE (32-0) is ranked No. 1 in Class A and cruised into the championship after knocking off MACCRAY, 86-69 in Friday's semifinals.
"I think if we play our game, we'll be just fine," said BBE senior guard Kevin Kuefler, who has scored 49 points in the Jaguars first two wins in the tournament.
"But anything can happen, too, even though we're favored to win. It's like the 1980 Olympic (hockey) team. No one gave them a chance to win. You have to be ready and work hard at all times."
Springfield (25-3) is patient on offense, looking for a good shot. But the Tigers will have to contend with a Jaguars team that extracts turnovers at a rapid-fire pace.
"We've played teams like Springfield where they like to slow the pace," said Kuefler, after watching the Tigers' semifinal game with his coaches and teammates. "But our defense usually forces teams to move the ball around faster than they'd like and soon they are playing our tempo."
The Tigers have a balanced scoring attack. Jesse Kieper, a 5-9 senior guard, leads the way with a 17.9 scoring average. Cody Milbrath, a 6-5 senior forward, averages 17.1 points and 7.3 rebounds; Alex Fink averages 12.9 points, 6.3 rebounds and 6.8 assists; Tyler Marz, a 6-8 senior center, averages 10.7 points and 4.7 rebounds; and Dillon Schultz, a 6-2 senior guard, averages 10 points. Fink led Springfield with 21 points in the win over Chisholm.
Marz has signed a to play foortball for the University of Wisconsin.
"Springfield plays hard and they play together," said Kuefler. "They are a solid team. They pass the ball well and they shoot the ball well. It's going to be a good game."
Kuefler leads BBE with a 19.5 average. He also averages 8.3 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game. Connor Goodwin averages 13.2 points and 8.5 rebounds, Brady Koehler averages 12.7 points and 5.6 rebounds, Brian Goodwin averages 7.7 points and 4.5 assists, and Brent Koehler averages 6.1 points and 2.5 rebounds.