SECTION 3A BOYS BASKETBALL: No. 1 Vikings use key runs to top No. 3 Jaguars in Section 3A quarterfinals

Photo by Sam Thiel Minneota’s Jacob Hennen shoots a floater during their Section 3A quarterfinal game against Renville County West on Thursday. The Vikings defeated the Jaguars 73-51.

MARSHALL – The last time the Minneota and Renville County West boys basketball teams squared off, the Vikings took down the Jaguars in a shootout 93-78. This time, with seasons on the line, Minneota and RCW had the makings of a similar outcome early on, but the Vikings used a pair of runs in each half to create enough separation and advanced to the Section 3A North Championship game with a 73-51 victory Thursday night.

It was a back-and-forth battle right from the opening tip, as RCW scored off the jumpball before the Vikings answered with a 3-pointer from Thomas Hennen to make it 10-6 Minneota with 13:48 left in the first half.

Minneota would then turn to its defense early to provide some early turnovers from the Jaguars and RCW’s mistakes proved costly as the Vikings took advantage with multiple transition baskets. A 3-pointer from Jacob Hennen made it 19-8 in favor of the Vikings with 10:30 to go before Minneota got a pair of baskets to cap off a 13-2 run over the duration of seven and a half minutes to take a 23-8 lead.

The Jaguars wouldn’t back away quietly, however, as RCW got a 3-pointer to cut it to 10 before two more long distance shots brought it to just a five-point game at 28-23 with 2:30 to go. After the two teams traded a few baskets, RCW connected on yet another 3-pointer to cut it to just three with 20 seconds left but Minneota would take a 33-28 lead heading into the locker rooms.

Both teams came into the second half in search of some momentum and the Vikings got just that, as Minneota opened the final frame a barrage of 3-pointers from three different players to highlight a 13-0 start to go up 46-28 early.

RCW would work its way back again, this time getting a pair of 3-pointers of its own to cut the deficit to eight, but Minneota answered right back with a couple of baskets to push the lead back to double digits.

Both teams would then trade points over the next few minutes, as Minneota continued to maintain a double-digit advantage. A 3-pointer from the Jaguars would cut it to 12 at 63-51 with 5:30 left, but RCW couldn’t get any closer as Minneota ended the game with a 10-0 run to take the 73-51 victory.

Minneota coach Dave Busselman said Thursday night’s game was similar to their first meeting with the Jaguars, and they were able to make enough plays once again to get the win.

“We played it that way the first time we played them. We got out to a good start and then they hit some threes,” Busselman said. “We knew it was going to be a game of runs and we just had to suck the punches in and do our best. In the second half we had some kids hit some big shots for us and we made the shots we needed to make.”

Thomas Hennen led the way for the Vikings with 22 points while Jacob Hennen added 18 and Isaac Hennen had 10. Thomas Hennen also led in rebounds with 13 and in assists with three.

Defensively, Minneota forced 14 RCW turnovers and had 10 steals. Busselman said they needed to limit second chance opportunities for the Jaguars and they were able

“We just need to get out and cover and not give a lot of second chance shots,” Busselman said. “Their post players were hard to stop and we just battled and that’s what we needed to do. We just need to contest everything they get.”

Minneota (23-3) will face No. 3 Lakeview in the Section 3A North Championship game on Saturday afternoon at 2:30 p.m. at SMSU. Busselman said they need to maintain a high level of confidence and be as prepared as they can with just two days separating the quarterfinal and semifinal round.

“We’re there and we’re looking to build on it. We don’t have a lot of time to prepare for either team and they don’t have a lot of time to prepare for us,” Busselman said. “It comes down to the things we wanted to do and we showed that we can do that and get some confidence. It was close for a while but we were in control all night and that’s something that we can build off of.”

RCW 28 23 – 51

Minneota 33 40 – 73

Scoring: Minneota 27-64, 42.2 percent (T. Hennen 7-15, 6-6 22; J. Hennen 7-12, 2-2 18; I. Hennen 4-10, 1-2 10; Josephson 3-11, 0-0 9; Boerboom 3-6, 0-1 6; Sorensen 2-3, 0-0 5; Sussner 1-7, 1-2 3).

3-pointers: Minneota 9-29, 31 percent (Josephson 3; J. Hennen, T. Hennen 2).

Rebounds: Minneota 33 (T. Hennen 13).

Assists: Minneota 12 (T. Hennen 3; Four with 2).

Steals: Minneota 10 (T. Hennen 4).

Blocks: Minneota 2 (I. Hennen, J. Hennen 1).

Fouls: Minneota 12.

Turnovers: Minneota 6.