The Four-Point Play: Eagles honored by Breakdown experience
The Four-Point Play is a weekly look into four of the top storylines in area prep basketball, written by sports reporter Curt Hogg.
Lac qui Parle Valley girls head coach John Nolte knew before the season started that he struck gold in taking over a talented, veteran group in his first year at the helm.
But in case he needed any more evidence, finding himself at the prestigious Breakdown Invitational over the weekend in Minnetonka alongside many of the best teams in the state will work just fine.
"Knowing that the goal of the tournament was to try to schedule teams they knew would be ranked ahead of time against other ranked teams that don't usually play, and that we were selected is a big honor," Nolte said. "Us being considered one of the elite teams in the state, I just think that's really such an honor."
The Eagles, ranked No. 9 in the state according to the most recent Follow the Rock media/coaches poll, fell to No. 3 Mountain Iron-Buhl 67-57 on Saturday but proved they belonged on the stage in the process.
"The best part was we got to play a team that really challenged us," Nolte said. "I think it's just going to make us a better team down the road.
After making the long trek from Madison on Saturday morning, the Eagles were able to watch a premier Class AA matchup in Byron against Watertown-Mayer—a game featuring a pair of centers committed to playing at Kansas State and Iowa.
Guard Kelsea Lund, all 5-foot-2 of her, showed that players on the opposite side of the size spectrum can get it done, as well. Lund hit all five 3-pointers she attempted and scored 19 points for LQPV, which led for the first 10 minutes of the game.
"Seeing that contrast was fun," Nolte said. "Mountain (Iron-Buhl) was kind of similar to us in that they didn't have a ton of size compared to most teams that were there. They weren't necessarily as small as us, but I wouldn't consider them to have had a very tall player."
Also known as the Junior Russell Westbrook Club, this portion of the show is devoted to showing the proper respect to all the stat-sheet stuffers out there. (I would say the 'fellow stat-sheet stuffers out there' but, let's be honest, the only stat sheets I was filling in my playing days came by keeping track of the scorebook.)
No Tribune-area player has recorded a triple-double quite yet on the season, but there have sure been some close calls.
The king of flirting with a triple-double thus far has been BOLD guard Gavin Vosika, who has quickly switched gears from terrorizing opposing linebackers to shredding rival point guards like a fine, rare cheese. Speaking of rare, Vosika nearly garnered a quadruple-double in a win over Sauk Centre on Friday with 10 points, 10 assists, nine rebounds and nine steals. This came just one week after posting 19 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists in a season-opening win against MACCRAY.
Morris/C-A's Malory Anderson had her own statement performance in a season-opener, scoring 22 points, swiping nine steals and bringing down eight rebounds against ACGC on Dec. 28.
Other close-but-no-cigar performers include MACCRAY's Piper Asche (12 points, 11 blocks, 7 rebounds), Dawson-Boyd's Avery Bartunek (10 reb., 8 pts., 8 steals) and New London-Spicer's Brandon Adelman (28 pts., 10 assists, 6 reb.).
Follow the Rock
Steven Bruce of Follow the Rock, a website dedicated to Minnesota high school hoops coverage, started a statewide prep boys and girls basketball poll for all classes this past week, with the first results coming out on Dec. 10.
While the concept of a high school sports poll is nothing new in and of itself, hopefully the Follow the Rock poll can provide a more crowd-sourced look at the top teams in the state. The rankings are determined by 35 voters, all of whom are either coaches or media that log lots of time covering prep basketball.
I am one of those voters and included three local teams, all on the girls side of things, in my first set of rankings. New London-Spicer checked in with the highest ranking at No. 5 in Class AA, while Lac qui Parle Valley and Willmar also checked. The Eagles are my No. 7 team in Class A and the Cardinals No. 8 in Class AAA.
Apparently, I'm lower on a pair of those local teams than the consensus, as NLS is No. 3 and Willmar is No. 5.
Home of the Braves
Amid a rough stretch in terms of wins and losses, the Benson girls basketball team gained a big pick-up last week.
The Braves downed Paynesville 59-36 last Friday night, earning their first win since Feb. 23, 2016.
The Benson defense held the Bulldogs to 14-of-52 shooting (26 percent) on the night and jumped out to a 34-17 lead at halftime. A pair of sophomores showed some promise for the Braves, as Kaitlyn Berreau and Claire Ricard both scored 14 points to lead the team.