Boys basketball: NLS Wildcats knock off top seed
Fifth-seeded New London-Spicer beats top-seeded Morris/Chokio-Alberta 49-35 in Section 3AA-North; Eden Valley-Watkins cruises past Litchfield, 59-31
WILLMAR — The fifth-seeded New London-Spicer boys basketball team pulled off an upset against top-seeded Morris/Chokio-Alberta through stingy defensive play and by dominating the glass.
The Wildcats held the Tigers to less than 20 points in both halves en route to a 49-35 victory in the Section 3AA-North semifinals on Wednesday at the Big Red Gym.
NLS plays second-seeded Eden Valley-Watkins in the Section 3AA-North finals at 8 p.m. Saturday at Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall.
“We’ve been playing really good defense for the last month and they are really connected right now,” NLS head coach Skip Wright said of his Wildcats, who have won nine of their last 12 games. “You’re looking at a group of seniors that don’t want their season to end. That was the added incentive tonight.”
The Wildcats held a 37-18 rebounding edge over Morris/CA, the defending section champion. Senior guard Aedan Andresen and junior forward Grant Paffrath led the way with 10 rebounds a piece.
NLS also recorded 12 steals and three blocks. Senior forward Brycen Christensen had four steals and senior center Paul Meier notched a pair of blocks.
“We fought so hard and we all wanted it really badly. Our defense has been crazy lately,” Andresen said. “We just want to win so badly and we want to keep going further.”
NLS’ defensive effort propelled it to a 23-16 halftime lead. The Wildcats ended the half on a nine-point run.
The lengthy run provided the Wildcats a cushion in the second half, where they never trailed.
“We really wanted to go get this one. We knew that we had a chance to go get them tonight,” Paffrath said. “We had nothing to lose. We’re the five seed.”
Paffrath led the Wildcats with 24 points to secure a double-double. Christensen had 13 and Andresen added nine.
NLS’ slimmest lead in the second half came early at 25-20. The Wildcats cemented their win by closing out the contest with six free throws.
The Wildcats enter Saturday’s Section 3AA-North final riding a five-game winning streak.
“We just need to keep building off our wins,” Andresen said. “We need to keep it rolling, keep the energy going.”
NLS 49, Morris/CA 35
NLS (16-12) 23 26 — 49
Morris/CA (20-7) 16 19 — 35
NLS - Scoring: Grant Paffrath 24, Brycen Christensen 13, Aedan Andresen 9, Mason Delzer 3 … 3-point shots: Christensen 1, Paffrath 1 … Rebound leaders: Andresen 10, Paffrath 10 … Assist leader: three players with 1 … Steal leader: Christensen 4 ... Block leader: Paul Meier 2
MORRIS/CA - Scoring: Riley Asmus 11, Charles Hanson 6, Tyler Berlinger 6, Drew Huebner 5, Owen Anderson 3, Drew Storck 2, Jack Tollefson 2 … 3-point shots: Hanson 2 … Rebound leader: Fehr 6 … Assist leaders: Asmus 1, Berlinger 1 … Steal leaders: Asmus 2, Berlinger 2 ... Block leader: Huebner 1, Storck 1
EV-W 59, Litchfield 31
Second-seeded Eden Valley-Watkins cruised past sixth-seeded Litchfield as three players scored in the double figures at the Big Red Gym in Willmar.
Leading the charge for the Eagles was junior guard Landon Neiman with 15 points. Senior forward Myles Dziengel had 11 and junior forward Parker Schultz added 10.
“We had a tough time scoring and couldn’t get anybody shooting the ball besides Alex,” Litchfield head coach Matt Draeger said. “You’re not going to survive with one guy scoring.”
Dragons senior guard Alex Draeger scored 16 points, drilling five 3-pointers and adding one free throw on two attempts.
Litchfield finishes its season with a 7-21 record. The Dragons upset three-seeded Paynesville on Saturday.
“We didn’t have a lot of wins, but you could never tell with how hard they played,” Draeger said. “There was no quit. … That speaks volumes to our kids, their confidence and the type of kids they are.”
Litchfield (7-21) 13 18 — 31
EV-W (22-6) 31 28 — 59
LITCHFIELD - Scoring: Alex Draeger 16, Jacob Dietel 8, Creighton Huhner 2. Tyler Pennertz 2, Jack McCann 2, Cam Baalson 1 … 3-point shots: n/a … Rebound leader: n/a … Assist leader: n/a … Steal leader: n/a ... Block leader: n/a
EV-W - Scoring: Landon Neiman 15, Myles Dziengel 11, Parker Schultz 10, Noah Stommes 8, Wyatt Moehrle 7, Nolan Geislinger 5, Phillip Reichert 3 … 3-point shots: Dziengel 3, Geislinger 1, Reichert 1 … Rebound leader: n/a … Assist leader: n/a … Steal leader: n/a ... Block leader: n/a