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Boys basketball: BBE takes 50-game winning streak to Melrose on Thursday

MELROSE — The longest current winning streak in Minnesota high school boys basketball is on the line tonight in Melrose.

Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa, the No. 1 team in Class A and riding a streak of 50 consecutive wins, faces off against the Dutchmen, ranked No. 1 in Class AA. The game starts at 7:30 p.m. at Melrose Area High School.

Jaguars’ head coach Dave Montbriand said he’s feeling good about their chances.

“Our defense is in postseason form right now,” he said. “We’ve still got room for improvement offensively, but if we come out and play defense like we have the whole year I think we’ll have a real good chance.”

The BBE defense has allowed 44.4 points per game this season, which ranks as the best in Class A.

“BBE is so well coached and they played so well together that they really don't have any weaknesses,” Melrose head coach Ryan Dusha said. “We need to take care of the basketball because so much of their offense comes from their defense.”

The Jaguars will have their hands full with the Dutchmen, who average 75.8 points scored per game, third in Class AA and trailing only Braham (77.2) and St. Cloud Cathedral (76.2).

BBE is no slouch on offense either, with junior guard Brian Goodwin (20.4 ppg), and junior forwards Billy Borgerding (14.8 ppg) and James Kuefler (10.7 ppg, 8.9 rebounds per game). BBE rounds out its starting five with junior guard Trey Heinsius (9.6 ppg, 5.8 rpg) and senior forward Alex Wosmek (4.7 ppg).

“They are difficult to match up with since they have very good length at the wing and guard positions and very good quickness at the post positions,” Dusha said.  

Goodwin, Borgerding and Kuefler are returning starters from the 33-0 state championship team last season and Heinsius was the first man off the bench.

“Even though the core of their team are juniors, they still have a ton of experience,” Dusha said. “The stage will not be too big for them. I expect this to be a very tight game where every possession will matter.”

Melrose was bounced from the Section 6AA tournament by Pierz last season when they finished 20-9, but has only improved this year with a nearly perfect 2012-13. They’re undefeated in the West Central North and are 15-1 overall with their only loss coming in overtime at Litchfield on Dec. 21.

Like BBE, the Dutchmen have their core players from last season returning, including senior guards Isaac Sawyer (15 ppg) and Scottie Stone (27 ppg).

“They have one of the best guard tandems in the state with Sawyer and Stone,” Montbriand said. “They both drive really well and take people off the dribble.”

Montbriand said he thinks the Jaguars will be able to keep them in check.

“On paper it would look like a high-scoring game,” he said, “But both teams play good defense. It’s a game you might expect to get into the 80s, but if we can play defense the way we have been it’ll be tough for them to score 80 on us.”

Coincidentally, BBE’s streak began against Melrose. After losing in the state tournament final of the 2010-11 season, they beat the Dutchmen 75-64 in the 2011-12 opener on Dec. 8, 2011. It was the last time the teams met.

Ben Brewster

Ben Brewster covers the Willmar Stingers and other area sports, as well as laying out the daily sports section cover for the West Central Tribune. Follow him on Twitter @benbrewster.

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