PAYNESVILLE — Kaden Pieper led his team in the scoring column and drilled critical free throws late to help Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa squeeze past Paynesville on Friday night.
The two teams were locked at 32-all entering halftime before the Jaguars emerged with a 64-61 Central Minnesota Conference victory at Paynesville High School.
With the win, BBE remained in third place in the conference standings with an 8-2 mark. Paynesville is fourth at 6-4. Eden Valley-Watkins tops the standings with a 10-1 record after defeating Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City 85-35 on Friday.
The visitors enjoyed as much as a nine-point advantage in the second half, but the Bulldogs tied the score on multiple occasions. BBE regained the lead and secured the victory with Pieper’s makes from the foul line.
The sophomore guard finished with 23 points on 9 of 16 shooting from the field and 3 of 4 from the free-throw line. Ninth-grade wing Luke Dingmann added 17 points and nine rebounds.
The Bulldogs and Jaguars each went on runs in the first half.
After Corbin Froelich gave the hosts their first lead at 12-11 with a 3-pointer, BBE responded with a 9-0 push. Dingmann and Pieper each knocked down shots while being fouled to cap the run, although each could not complete the three-point play.
Following a baseline jump shot from Ryan Schwinghammer and a pull-up jumper from Peyton Winter, the Jaguars had their biggest cushion of the night at 30-18 before Paynesville fought back in it.
The home team closed out the first half with a 14-2 surge. Highlighted by a long-distance buzzer-beater to close the half, Froelich scored 10 of his team’s points within that stretch, including the last eight.
The senior wing finished with a game-high 35 points on 13-for-24 shooting from the field. He also made five of his six attempts from the foul line, grabbed six rebounds and collected five steals.
Eli Nelson added 13 points and six rebounds for the Bulldogs.
BBE plays at 7:15 p.m. Tuesday at Kimball. Paynesville is host to Holdingford at 7:15 p.m. Tuesday.