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Boys Basketball: Minnewaska falls to LPGE in 6AA-West

Brady Johnsrud, right, drives the lane defended by Cody Warner of Long Prairie-Grey Eagle in the first half at University of Minnesota-Morris on Tuesday in the Section 6AA-West championship. (Tribune photo by Rand Middleton)

MORRIS -- In the third meeting of the season, Long Prairie-Grey Eagle prevailed in the one that mattered the most.

The Thunder (24-4) utilized an aggressive zone defense to stymie Minnewaska Area 49-44 in the Section 6AA-West championship Tuesday night at the University of Minnesota-Morris.

"(LPGE's) zone is outstanding," said Minnewaska coach Phil Johnsrud. "You can analyze it all you want and think you see opportunities, but they are as long as any team we've seen and they take away the passing lanes. They can make an offense stagnant."

The Thunder defense entered the game allowing opponents only 42 points-per-game this season.

Minnewaska won the first meeting with the Thunder on Feb. 15, 43-40. LPGE then avenged that loss by topping the Lakers 63-50 in the West Central inter-conference championnship on March 7. Both of those games were played in Long Prairie.

In the third meeting on Tuesday, Brady Johnsrud poured in a game-high 26 points in his final game with the Lakers. But no other Minnewaska Area player reached double digits.

"Seemed out shots weren't falling and their's were," said Minnewaska's Ben Peters, who had four points and nine rebounds. "Especially me. I missed a bunch of layups."

Shane Bosek was next with seven points and seven rebounds for the Lakers, who shot just 29 percent (18-for-62) from the field, including 5-for-23 (22 percent) on three-pointers.

"We're not a great outside shooting team and we wanted to attack the high post and the short corner," said Phil Johnsrud. "But we weren't successful and we couldn't make shots at the right time. And they just kept gaining confidence."

Both teams started slow, missing several shots before Brady Johnsrud drained a three-pointer nearly two minutes into the game. Long Prairie-Grey Eagle countered with a basket by Cody Sprenger and then a three-pointer by Duane Miller and never trailed again.

"We just stuck with zone," said Long Prairie-Grey Eagle senior center Jake Kingston. "We knew we couldn't let them get open shots so out zone had to be really quick."

Miller led Long Prairie-Grey Eagle with 14 points. Cody Warner had 11 points and 11 rebounds.

Long Prairie-Grey Eagle will face Melrose in the 6AA championship at 8 p.m. Friday at St. Cloud State University. Both teams are from the West Central North Conference.

Rand Middleton contributed to this article.

LPGE 49, Minnewaska 44

LPGE (24-4) 23 36 -- 49

Minnewaska (25-5) 18 26 -- 44

LONG PRAIRIE-GREY EAGLE - 22-51 FG (4-11 3-pt); 9-13 FT; 33 rebounds; 13 fouls ... Scoring: Cody Sprenger 7, Duane Miller 14, Dylan Warner 11, Zach Miller 6, Jake Kingstrom 4, Mitch Branby 5, Stanley Harvey 2 ... 3-point shots: Z.Miller 1, Branby 1, Sprenger 2 ... Rebound leaders: Warner 8, Z.Miller 9, Kingston 7 ... Assist leader: Warner 5 ... Steal leaders: Kingston 2, Sprenger 2, D.Miller 2

MINNEWASKA - 18-62 FG (5-23 3-pt); 13-16 FT; 29 rebounds; 15 fouls ... Scoring: Shane Bosek 7, Brady Johnsrud 26, Andrew Ostrander 4, Blake Johnsrud 2, Ben Peters 4, Trenton Berg 1 ... 3-point shots: Brady Johnsrud 4, Bosek 1 ... Rebound leaders: Peters 9, Bosek 8 ... Assist leaders: Blake Johnsrud 2 ... Steal leaders: Berg 2, Brady Johnsrud 2