PREP BOYS' BASKETBALL: Fulda flys past Murray County Central
EDGERTON -- Extending their eight-point halftime lead into a 21-point advantage within the first 8:25 of the second half Thursday night, the eighth-seeded Fulda Raiders captured a 74-51 victory over the ninth-seeded Murray County Central Rebels in the opening round of the Section 3A South boys' basketball tournament at Edgerton High School.
Fulda (10-13) advances to the Section 3A South quarterfinals Saturday afternoon, as the Raiders will take on top-seeded Ellsworth in the first game (1 p.m.) of "Super Saturday" at Worthington High School.
Fulda, which scored at least 68 points for the sixth straight game (76.5 points per game in that stretch), had nine players score against MCC -- including five who netted between eight and 15 points to create a balanced offensive attack.
"We played pretty well tonight, and I thought we were a little more aggressive on both ends of the floor in the second half," Fulda head coach Brad Holinka said after the game. "Our half-court defense was solid for most of the game, and we did a good job of pushing the ball up the floor and finding guys for open shots."
Junior Devin Kuehne paced the Raiders with 15 points (12 in the second half on four 3-pointers) and eight assists, while seniors Ben Gehl (13 points) and Kyle Jans (10 points, 10 rebounds) also scored in double figures.
Senior Aaron Leinen and freshman Max Dibble (nine rebounds) each scored eight points, while senior Alex Hein -- who had major knee surgery six months ago and missed the entire football season -- added six points in his 21st basketball game of the season.
Mark Bau, a senior who is the Section 3A Triple 'A' boys' representative, scored 15 points to lead MCC, which split the regular-season series with Fulda and finishes its season with a record of 8-17.
"Fulda played really well tonight, and we didn't have an answer for them at times," MCC head coach Tim Bobeldyk said. "Our defensive intensity was good near the end of the first half, and we were happy to be down by just eight points at halftime after Fulda had built an early 15-point lead."
Bau scored MCC's first eight points, as he fired in a pair of 3-pointers and scored on an inbounds feed from junior Eric Wieneke to help create an 11-8 score in favor of Fulda at the 12:52 mark of the first half.
Fulda led during that entire stretch, as Kuehne passed to Jans for a hoop in the paint, and Dibble added a strong offensive-rebound bucket to give the Raiders a 4-0 lead with 16:22 left.
A pair of put-back baskets by Jans, plus a long 3-pointer from the left wing by Leinen, allowed Fulda to take an 11-5 lead before Bau hit his second 3-pointer -- a long swisher from out top.
Fulda, though, put together a 13-1 surge in a span of 5:29 to open up a 24-9 lead. Hein started that run with an offensive-rebound basket at the 12:30 mark and added another stick-back bucket with 10:05 to go to put Fulda up 15-8.
Gehl and senior Tyler Goedtke accounted for Fulda's next six points. Gehl hit a five-foot floater along the right baseline before taking a pass from Goedtke and scoring in the lane, while Goedtke converted a steal into a nifty coast-to-coast layup to help the Raiders build a double-digit lead.
Kuehne capped the run with a back-door hoop off an assist from junior Nate Fremstad. Kuehne was also fouled and hit the ensuing free throw to complete a three-point play and give Fulda a 15-point lead with 7:01 remaining.
However, MCC answered with a 9-0 run to pull within six points (24-18) at the 3:41 mark. Junior Tayler Streff (eight points) nailed a 3-pointer on the left wing with 4:27 to go (MCC's first field goal since Bau's second trey), while Wieneke and juniors Kyle DeLong (seven points), Ryan Prahm and Kyle Lewis combined to sink six free throws in that sequence.
But Gehl countered with back-to-back 3-pointers -- one in the right corner and one from the left wing -- to put Fulda up 30-18 with 2:49 left.
Two free throws from DeLong and a mid-range pull-up jumper on the right wing by junior Alex Peterson made it 30-22 at halftime.
The Raiders, who had a 42-28 rebounding advantage, then opened the second half on a 7-0 run -- highlighted by a driving basket by Leinen off a transition assist from Kuehne -- to regain a 15-point lead (37-22) at the 16:31 mark.
Bau and Peterson answered with consecutive medium-range shots, and MCC later trailed by 10 (41-31) following a catch-and-shoot 12-footer in the lane by Bau off an assist from Prahm with 12:39 on the clock.
That's when Fulda broke the game open, as Hein knocked down a right-elbow jumper off a feed from Kuehne and also passed to Leinen for a 3-point splash from the top of the key to start an 11-0 surge.
Kuehne then passed to Gehl for a 3-pointer from the right wing and later pulled up and dialed in a 3-pointer -- also on the right wing -- to produce a 52-31 lead for Fulda with 9:35 remaining.
Kuehne added three more long-distance shots after that, including two in a row to counter a trey by DeLong, and Fremstad hit a hook shot in the lane to help Fulda open up a 69-46 bulge with 2:41 to play.
Senior Sam Olsem netted two free throws to help Fulda take its largest lead (74-46) with 1:06 remaining.
MCC scored the game's last five points, including three when junior Alex Petersen popped in a shot from behind the arc with 11 seconds left, to make the final score 74-51.
MCC 22 29 -- 51
Fulda 30 44 -- 74
MCC (3PT-2PT-FT-TP): DeLong 1-0-4-7, Prahm 0-1-3-5, Wieneke 0-0-4-4, Lewis 0-1-1-3, Peterson 0-3-0-6, Streff 1-2-1-8, Bau 2-4-1-15, Petersen 1-0-0-3. Totals: 5-11-14-51.
FHS (3PT-2PT-FT-TP): Gehl 3-2-0-13, Kuehne 4-1-1-15, Hein 0-3-0-6, Goedtke 0-2-1-5, Dibble 0-2-4-8, Leinen 2-1-0-8, S. Olsem 0-1-3-5, Fremstad 0-2-0-4, Jans 0-5-0-10. Totals: 9-19-9-74.