Section boys basketball: BBE focuses on New York Mills
The Jaguars play the Eagles for the Section 6A title Friday at Fergus Falls. At stake is a Class A state berth next week.
FERGUS FALLS — Call Will Van Beck a pest and he smiles.
The pleasant Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa senior guard likely has been called worse.
"Love it," he said.
Van Beck is the Jaguars' resident defensive shadow. He gets the toughest opponents to defend and relishes the role.
He's ability to shadow opponents is one of the reasons BBE plays for the Section 6A championship at 7 p.m. Friday at Fergus Falls High School.
BBE (25-4) plays New York Mills (28-1) for a berth in next week's state Class A tournament in Minneapolis.
"We definitely want to get there and make a statement," Van Beck said.
The Jaguars advanced by beating Hancock 71-44 in the Section 6A-South championship. The Owls had just beaten BBE 57-55 in the regular-season finale and had a number of close, intense games with Hancock before Tuesday's lopsided win at Minnewaska Area High School.
The difference? Defense.
"I think he's the only guy on our team who likes to play defense," sophomore forward Luke Dingmann said with a big smile of Van Beck. "It (being called a pest) definitely fits."
The Owls struggled offensively and Van Beck did his part, making things difficult for Hancock's offense. Van Beck led BBE with four steals and that's one big part of his game.
The other is setting up big scorers Kaden Pieper, Ashton Dingmann and Luke Dingmann, who all had big games.
"We use our defense to fuel our offense," Van Beck said.
It'll be a priority Friday as BBE tries to get back to the state tournament for the first time since 2014.
The Eagles advanced to the final by beating Henning 65-60 in the 6A-North final. Tate Olson led the way for New York Mills with 22 points and 13 rebounds.
The Eagles' lone loss this season was to Hancock. The Owls beat New York Mills 67-60 on Jan. 22 in Hancock. The Eagles hope to qualify for their first state tournament berth since 2006.
BBE is back in the section final for the first time since 2019 when it lost to Cromwell-Wright in Crosby. The Jaguars last qualified for state in 2014.
"I know it's been a long time," Luke Dingmann said. "We're looking forward to it (the section final)."
New York Mills was ranked sixth in Class A in the final QRF power rankings by Minnesota-Scores.Net, which many sections use for seedings purposes. The Eagles were 6A-North's top seed.
BBE is ranked third in Class A by the QRF. Three of the Jaguars' losses this season came early: 71-66 to Osakis on Dec. 9, 60-54 to Eden Valley-Watkins on Dec. 16 and 58-56 to New London-Spicer on Jan. 7 in Brooten. NLS is a Class AA school, which helps your QRF power ranking.
Friday's BBE-New York Mills winner advances to the Class A quarterfinals Wednesday at Williams Arena. Coaches will do seedings on-line once all the section champions are determined. The top five seeds will be announced. Six-through-eight will be determined by a random draw.