WORTHINGTON -- Nate Pfeifle gave Southwest Christian the separation it needed to defeat Hills-Beaver Creek 70-52 in an MSHSL Class A Boys Basketball Section 3 Tournament semifinal on Thursday.
Pfeifle, a 6-foot junior guard, hit a trio of 3-pointers on three of the first four Southwest Christian possessions of the second half, when the Eagles turned a 29-21 halftime cushion into a 40-25 advantage with 15:38 left.
"I was just feeling (my shot) in the second half. The shots weren't hitting for me in the first half, but I thought I would keep trying," said Pfeifle, who scored all 12 of his points on four second-half 3-pointers. "Hitting those shots helped us go down to our big man (Leighton Sampson). Hills-Beaver Creek's guards wouldn't sink down to defend him and that gave him a lot more room to work."
Pfeifle was not discouraged after missing all five of the shots he took during the first half. He blocked out that performance and went 4 of 6 from 3-point range after the break.
"To start the second half, you couldn't have drawn up (a game plan) any different than how it played out," SWC head coach Jamie Pap said. "I told the guys at halftime, if you're open, shoot the ball and never be hesitant. We just needed to keep shooting."
The Eagles took an 11-point (32-21) lead on Pfeifle's first 3-pointer, a long-range jumper from the left side with 17:43 remaining and led by double digits the rest of the way.
Sampson, a 6-5 junior center, scored 10 of his team-high 17 points for Southwest Christian after intermission. Dominic Nibbelink, a 6-1 senior guard who also drained a trio of 3-pointers, finished with 15 points for the Eagles.
Southwest Christian (25-1) advanced to play Russell-Tyler-Ruthton in the MSHSL Class A Section 3 Tournament championship game at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall.
The Knights defeated the Red Rock Central Falcons 65-48 in the other Class A Section 3 Tournament semifinal game Thursday at Worthington.
Hills-Beaver Creek, which completed its season at 14-11, played stout first-half defense to remain within eight points (29-21) at halftime.
The Patriots limited the Eagles to 35 percent (11 of 31) shooting from the field during the first 18 minutes, while Hills-Beaver Creek shot 36 percent (8 of 22) from the field during that same span. The Patriots also controlled the boards, winning the final rebounding total 34-33.
"We had to limit our turnovers and have some good offensive possessions every single time," Hills-Beaver Creek head coach Steve Wiertzma said. "We played pretty good defense in the first half, but we weren't very good, offensively, in the last 5 minutes. We just didn't get any good, quality shots. In the first 5 minutes of the second half, we let Southwest Christian hit some open 3-pointers."
The Patriots were sparked by Jeff Sandbulte, who scored the 1,000th point of his prep basketball career on the final basket of the game. He led all scorers with 26 points on 11 of 24 shooting from the field and 2 of 2 shooting at the free-throw line.
Southwest Christian attempted to shut down the Patriots' leading scorer in the second half by making some changes on defense.
"We did a good job, defensively, right from the start. Matchups didn't matter that much because we thought anybody could guard anybody," Pap said. "At halftime, we thought Sandbulte was scoring too much on us. So, we put Talsma on him to start the second half and we really slowed him down until we had a comfortable lead."
Sandbulte broke free for 17 second-half points, all of which came as the Patriots trailed by double digits during the final 18 minutes.
Carey Taubert ended up with 11 points and five rebounds for Hills-Beaver Creek, while Jon Gallagher produced seven points and nine rebounds.
Daily Globe Sports Editor Jeff Arenz
may be reached at 376-7328.
SOUTHWEST CHRISTIAN 70,
HILLS-BEAVER CREEK 52
SOUTHWEST CHRISTIAN (25-1): Huisken 1-2 0-0 2, Pfeifle 4-12 0-0 12, Knutson 1-6 5-8 7, Schelhaas 0-0 0-2 0, Vis 0-0 0-0 0, Nibbelink 5-11 2-3 15, Robinson 0-0 0-1 0, Vander Veen 4-9 0-1 8, Talsma 3-11 3-4 9, Sampson 8-10 1-2 17. Totals: 26-61 (43%) 11-21 (52%) 70.
HILLS-BEAVER CREEK (14-11): Gehrke 2-7 0-0 4, Ellingson 1-1 0-0 2, Bass 1-3 0-1 2, Wagenaar 0-3 0-0 0, Sandbulte 11-24 2-2 26, Wilhelmi 0-0 0-0 0, Kerkhove-Brandt 0-0 0-0 0, Taubert 4-7 3-4 11, Gallagher 3-5 1-4 7. Totals: 22-50 (44%) 6-11 (55%) 52.
Southwest Christian 29 41 -- 70
Hills-Beaver Creek 21 31 -- 52
3-Point Goals: Southwest Christian 7-20 (Pfeifle 4-7, Nibbelink 3-6, Huisken 0-1, Talsma 0-1, Vander Veen 0-1, Knutson 0-4); Hills-Beaver Creek 2-10 (Sandbulte 2-4, Bass 0-1, Wagenaar 0-1, Gehrke 0-4). Rebounds: Southwest Christian 33 (Huisken 8, Vander Veen 6, Sampson 5); Hills-Beaver Creek 34 (Gallagher 9, Taubert 5). Total Fouls (Fouled Out): Southwest Christian 14 (none); Hills-Beaver Creek 15 (Bass). Technical Fouls: None. Assists: Southwest Christian 15 (Talsma 7); Hills-Beaver Creek N/A. Steals: Southwest Christian 14 (Talsma 4, Pfeifle 3, Knutson 3, Nibbelink 2, Vander Veen 2); Hills-Beaver Creek 4 (Gerhke 2). Blocked Shots: Southwest Christian 5 (Talsma 3, Pfeifle, Sampson); Hills-Beaver Creek 1 (Gallagher). Turnovers: Southwest Christian 9, Hills-Beaver Creek 21.