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Posted On: 03/13/18 10:12 AM
The Section 8AAA semifinals were held on Saturday in Halenbeck Hall on the campus of St. Cloud State University.
8AAA semifinal action got started on Saturday with a tilt between two Central Lakes Conference foes, the #1 seed Fergus Falls and the #5 seed St. Cloud Apollo. The first half of the game was hotly contested. At one point in the half, Apollo had built an 8-point lead, but he Otters battled back to tie the score at 28 going into halftime. The playoff experience of Fergus Falls showed in the second half, as they extended their lead and eventually won this physical contest by a score of 78-66. Michael Gravelle led the Eagles with 20 points, and Nathan Rund paced the Otters with 30 points for the day.
The second game of the day pitted the #2 seed Sauk Rapids-Rice against the #6 seed Detroit Lakes. This game was a tale of two halves, as the Lakers came out of the gates firing on all cylinders Saturday night. Detroit Lakes made seven triples in the first half to go into halftime with a 29-22 lead. The hot shooting for the Lakers would cool down in the second half, and the Storm picked up steam. Sauk Rapids-Rice went on a 20-0 run at one point in the second half and would end up winning the game with a final score of 63-49. Jacob Bettcher netted 20 points for Detroit Lakes, and Deng Deang led all scorers with 25 points for Sauk Rapids-Rice.
The #1 seed Fergus Falls will face the #2 seed Sauk Rapids-Rice at 7pm on Thursday night at Alexandria High School.
Here are ten of the standout performances from the action on Saturday:
Nathan Rund, Fergus Falls, Sr. – The future MSUM Dragon poured in 30 points on Saturday, going 7 for 11 from the floor and a perfect 12 for 12 at the charity stripe. However, the biggest accomplishment came when he became the all-time leading scorer for the Fergus Falls Otters. He has had a very distinguished career, with many accolades and multiple trips to the State Tourney, but he and his teammates have their sights set on one more trip to Minneapolis.
Deng Deang, Sauk Rapids-Rice, Sr. – After missing a handful of games at the beginning of the season, the 6’5” forward Deang has really come into his own in the second half of the season. He had 25 points to go along with 7 rebounds on Saturday. He was effective both in the post and slashing to the basket, a very dangerous player with the ball in his hands.
Michael Gravelle, St. Cloud Apollo, So. – The 5’8” sophomore point guard has continued to improve his game over the course of the season. This is the third chance I’ve had to watch him play this season and I’ve come away a little more impressed each time. He finished the game with 20 points, scoring in the lane and hitting a couple of shots from deep. His speed and lateral quickness is impressive.
Anthony Massman, Sauk Rapids-Rice, Sr. – Massman had a solid game shooting the basketball on Saturday, going 6 of 14 from the field, including 3 of 6 from deep. He also was a perfect 5 for 5 from the line, finishing the game with 20 points and 5 rebounds. The 6’1” guard is often overshadowed by Deang and Landwehr, but he can be a very effective scorer in his own right.
Jacob Bettcher, Detroit Lakes, Jr. – The 6’2” guard was the only Laker to post double-figures, finishing with 20 points. He showed his versatility scoring the ball throughout this game, knocking down open looks from distance and getting to the rim and finishing against the big frontcourt of Sauk Rapids-Rice.
Matthew Johnson, Fergus Falls, Jr. – Johnson finished the game with 19 points for the Otters, and the one thing that really stuck out to me for Johnson was his athleticism. I’ve seen him play a number of times over the course of the last two years, but it was more apparent Saturday. Apollo is a very athletic team that rebounds aggressively and contests every shot hard. The 6’0” guard Johnson displayed his leaping ability and physicality when attacking the glass as well as his body control and strength when attacking the rim.
Marquise Smith, St. Cloud Apollo, Sr. – Much like Johnson, the 6’0” Smith’s athleticism jumps out at you. On one possession, Smith leaped high for a defensive rebound and blew by at least three Otters on his way to a layup on the other end. That one sequence displayed the exceptional athleticism that Smith possesses. He finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds in the game.
Cody Landwehr, Sauk Rapids-Rice, Sr. – When you look at the final stat sheet, it wasn’t the 6’7” seniors best game of the season statistically, finishing with 5 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 assists. However, it showed me that Landwehr only has one thing on his mind, and that is winning. He had two teammates that were rolling, Deang with 25 points and Massman with 20 points, and he didn’t try to force anything, but rather played within the flow of the offense. He provided an impactful defensive presence, altering a number of shots in the paint.
Logan Pratt, Detroit Lakes, Sr. – As the only player on the roster over 6’3”, Pratt had the tall task of trying to contain Landwehr most of the night, and he did a nice job of it. The 6’6” senior finished the game with 8 points, knocking down a pair of triples from the top of the key while pulling the Storm bigs out from the paint. He’s a versatile player that can function inside and out, with a sound stroke from distance.
Harrison Christensen, Fergus Falls, Sr. – Christensen is a jack of all trades for the Otters. I’ve watched him in games when he has carried the scoring load, and other games like Saturday when he was more of a facilitator. The 6’2” senior appeared to tweak something that slowed him in the first half, but he recovered to finish with 7 points and 7 assists. He is a very important piece of the puzzle for the Otters in a number of ways.