Benson tops Luverne to capture 3AA crown
MARSHALL -- Benson didn't change much in the year between its two match-ups with Luverne in Section 3AA championship games. The Braves did lose two starters from last season's Section runner-up squad, but the wear-you-out style didn't change at all.
MARSHALL -- Benson didn't change much in the year between its two match-ups with Luverne in Section 3AA championship games.
The Braves did lose two starters from last season's Section runner-up squad, but the wear-you-out style didn't change at all.
What changed was how well Benson executed its game plan, running over the Cardinals 67-52 to advance to the state Class AA boys basketball tournament, which starts Wednesday at the Target Center in Minneapolis. The Braves (22-4) will face the Section 8AA champion at 6 p.m.
One year ago, in the same gym at Southwest Minnesota State in Marshall, Benson couldn't get out and run against a veteran Luverne team, losing 59-50.
Thursday, the Braves ran like Forrest Gump, non-stop from beginning to end.
"That's the way we wanted to play it; run the ball up the court. Make them get tired because we knew they didn't play many guys off the bench," said junior Daniel Fragodt, the area's leading scorer.
And Fragodt was everywhere. He scored Benson's first four points and had eight of the Braves' first 10. He finished with a game-high 30.
The only time Benson struggled was for a seven-minute stretch in the first half. Defensively, the Braves weren't as strong on the offensive glass and were a little slow rotating to the open Luverne player.
"We started walking a little bit too far underneath the basket," said Benson head coach Roger Lindahl. "We gave them some easy runs."
But after the Cardinals tied the game at 19 on a Weston Sawtelle three-pointer, the Braves blanked Luverne for the final seven minutes.
Holding a 30-19 halftime lead, the Braves could have held back and rode out the lead. But there wasn't any letdown in the second half. After six minutes, Benson led by 25 points.
"That's always our game plan," said senior Joey Fragodt. "We always want to push it and we always want to play 100 percent defense.
The Braves flew effortlessly up and down the court until the starters came out with more than one minute left to play.
"I thought maybe the little bigger court would get us more tired," Lindahl said. But those Fragodt boys can run from the very beginning."
Daniel Fragodt scored 16 points in the first half and 14 in the second. He also grabbed five rebounds and dished out four assists.
Junior Jessy Holm, a 6-foot-7 center, added 14 points, many off off fastbreak finishes in the second half. He and senior Tyler Guest, who scored 11 points, grabbed eight rebounds each.
Benson 67, Luverne 52
Luverne (20-7) 19 33 -- 52
Benson (22-4) 30 37 -- 67
LUVERNE - 19-45 FG (4-14 3 pt); 10-14 FT; 26 rebounds; 8 fouls ... Scoring: Micah Boomgaarden 2, Marc Boelman 5, Tim Miller 2, Jake Hendricks 5, Jake Clark 5, Weston Sawtelle 18, Derek Boeve 7, Jeremy Hoff 2, Nick Heronimus 6 ... 3-point shots: Hendricks 1, Sawtelle 3 ... Rebound, assist, steal leaders not available
BENSON - 32-52 FG (0-2 3 pt); 3-7 FT; 32 rebounds; 15 fouls ... Scoring: Tyler Guest 11, Brett Collins 2, Daniel Fragodt 30, Aaron Hagen 6, Joey Fragodt 4, Jessy Holm 14 ... 3-point shots: none ... Rebound leader: Guest 8, Holm 8, D. Fragodt 5 ... Assist leader: J. Fragodt 4, D. Fragodt 4 ... Steal leader: Hagen 2