PREP BOYS BASKETBALL: Minneota glides past Lakeview, 75-58

Photo by Emily Daniels Minneota’s Isaac Hennen goes in for a layup during their game against Lakeview on Thursday. The Vikings defeated the Lakers 75-58.

COTTONWOOD – The Minneota boys basketball team took an early lead and never took its foot off the gas pedal as the Vikings ran away with a 75-58 win over Lakeview on Thursday night.

Despite the loss there were a lot of positive things that Lakers coach Jared Keaveny knows the team can take away from a hard-fought game.

“Positively speaking, we didn’t quit. The kids kept playing hard and tried to make some plays down the stretch and I think that shows the character of our team,” said Keaveny. “We’ll never stop playing and that’s what I love about the team. We battled and sometimes we were just a step behind on some things.”

The Vikings found their groove on the court right away in the first half on the offensive end, as Minneota went on an eight-point run and took a 10-2 lead with 13:30 left on the clock. Lakeview senior Jarod Goepferich ended Minneota’s point run and with another basket for the Lakers to momentarily stop the bleeding. A lot of the Vikings strengths were seen through their shot selection but also with their ability to rebound under the basket and keep their possessions alive on offense. The Lakers didn’t let Minneota’s strengths get in their way of playing the game of basketball that they know as they continued to fight for every opportunity on the offensive end to put more points on the board. Lakeview went on a seven-point run to bring them to within six at 15-9 with 10:52 remaining in the half as Conner Dopp brought in big buckets for the Lakers.

Both teams continued to push the pace on the court, testing each other’s strengths and weaknesses but back-to-back baskets from Minneota’s Isaac Hennen grew the Vikings lead to 22-12 with 7:30 left to play in the first. Thomas Hennen would then come alive on the 3-point line, growing Minneota’s lead score to a 13-point advantage. With 6:19 remaining on the clock, a Vikings 10-point run was ended by Goepferich, who ended the scoreless stretch for the Lakers, who continued to trail at 26-14. The last minute of the half didn’t compare to the intensity that was being shown earlier on in the game as both teams pushed the ball aggressively to put any last-minute points on the board but it was the Vikings that held their own and claimed the lead at the half, 37-26.

The second half started with the Lakers and Vikings putting up back-and-forth baskets keeping each other’s defense on its toes and in the game right away. Minneota held its steady lead at 44-32, but much like the first half the Lakers fought back and didn’t let the Vikings lead get into their head. Lakeview’s Jon Wyffels saw a big opportunity to read the Vikings offensive passes and stole the pass which led to more opportunities for the Lakers to show their strengths on offense. Logan Sussner was a big asset to the Vikings with rebounds on the defensive end, claiming his ground in the paint and fighting for every rebound he could grab. Lakeview’s offense saw a drought but picked it back up and that led to a few more mistakes on the defensive end for Minneota. The Vikings’ few mistakes didn’t hold them back from playing hard as they held their lead at 53-37 with 12:08 remaining on the clock. With just five minutes left to play in the game both teams saw that as an opportunity to pick up the pace and push the ball faster down the court, with the game becoming a little more physical. Lakeview found a groove on the court and connected well on both ends but the Vikings continued to hold the lead 66-49 with 4:26 left. The pace continued to stay at a high intensity, but Minneota held off Lakeview and took home the 75-58 win.

Teamwork played a big role in the Vikings game and Sussner sees that when he steps foot on the court every game with his team.

“We didn’t have one person that stood out tonight, everyone shared the ball. It doesn’t matter on our team who scores the most we just want to win games,” said Sussner. “We don’t look at the stats as long as we work together and play hard. Going into the section tournament we want to play our best every game, go as deep as we can and we’ll see what happens from there.”

Tate Varpness led the Lakers racking in a total of 17 points followed by Goepferich and Aaron Loe contributing nine each. Lakeview shot 23 of 75 of total shots and nine of 19 at the free-throw line. Minneota was led by Thomas Hennen with 21 points followed by Jacob Hennen with 19 and Sussner with 16. The Vikings shot 29 of 68 of total shots and 11 of 14 at the free-throw line.

Coming off the win tonight Minneota coach Dave Busselman saw a lot of strengths on the court from the team and looks to make a few more improvements going into the rest of the season.

“I thought defensively we played one of our better man-to-man ball games, we talked about how we wanted to manage our defense and I think we did a good job doing that. We also rebounded well and that’s a big plus for us,” said Busselman. “Offesively we talked about where we wanted to attack and we excecuted a game plan. But, I think our biggest strength was that we got to a lead and stuck to it. We have to clean up a few things before our next one but right now it’s more mental than physical.”