PREP BOYS' BASKETBALL: Panthers move to semis after 69-39 win over DragonsWORTHINGTON — The final game of Section 3A South’s “Super Saturday” action featured a rubber match between the third-seeded Ellsworth Panthers and the sixth-seeded Adrian Dragons.
By: Lance Knutson, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — The final game of Section 3A South’s “Super Saturday” action featured a rubber match between the third-seeded Ellsworth Panthers and the sixth-seeded Adrian Dragons.
The Panthers blasted their way past the Dragons in the third meeting between the teams with a 69-39 victory, sending Ellsworth (19-8) into a semifinal matchup with Fulda on Thursday, while ending Adrian’s season with an 11-15 record.
Adrian claimed the first match on Jan. 28 with a 69-58 win, but Ellsworth responded a month later, and five days prior to the rubber match, with a convincing 85-56 victory on Feb. 27 in the regular-season finale for both teams.
In Saturday’s game, both squads struggled from the field early, but Ellsworth’s shots started to fall and the Panthers controlled the lead from start to finish.
“We started out a little flat,” Ellsworth head coach JD Roberts said. “Our intensity was there, but we weren’t shooting the ball very well. I knew, offensively, that we were going to have to make some shots. We adjusted and we started getting some good looks inside.
“Defensively, we had to control (Kyle) Kilgore. We ran a box-and-one defense, which I think confused him a little bit. We put that in on Friday and I was very impressed with how we ran it.”
Casey Schilling paced Ellsworth with 25 points and 22 rebounds to go with six assists, four steals and three blocks.
The senior forward also defended Kilgore in the first half, while senior guard Nick Nolte (10 points and five assists) got the call to defend the Adrian post in the second half.
“We put our two best defenders against Kilgore,” Roberts added. “For half the game he has to go against Casey Schilling and for the other half of the game, he has to go against a smaller, quicker Nick Nolte.
“Our goal was to clog up the lane and make him take outside shots.”
Kilgore (three steals) made four field goals (one 3-pointer) and finished with a double-double of 13 points and 18 rebounds, but struggled from the field along with the rest of the Dragons.
Brandon Weidert led Adrian with 14 points, while Kody Henning had five points, five assists and three steals.
“I was hoping we would play better than we did,” Adrian head coach Dean Schnaible said. “It was our lowest point production of the whole season. We couldn’t hit and when you’re not shooting well, you don’t look good and we didn’t look good.
“We never got in a position to compete against a very good team.”
Adrian made 13 of 53 field goals (25 percent), including a 10-percent clip on 3-pointers (two for 20), while Ellsworth shot at a 48-percent mark (26 for 54) from the field.
In addition to Schilling’s double-double, Dalton Huisman added 15 points for the Panthers followed by Travis Kvaale with 10 points, while Logan Ahlers grabbed a season-high 10 rebounds.
Three players competed in their final game for the Adrian as Kilgore, Henning and Weidert are seniors.
“I really enjoyed our group of seniors,” Schnaible added. “They are all fine student-athletes and top-notch people. They’ve done a lot for the program over the years and I wish them the best in the future.”
While the Dragons are finished for the year, the Panthers are preparing to take on the No. 2-seed Fulda Raiders.
Fulda toppled Ellsworth 68-49 on Jan. 17 in a contest that the Panthers played without Schilling or Nolte.
“The first time we played Fulda, we were without Nick or Casey,” Roberts said. “They beat us pretty handily, but this time around, we will be at full strength and they will be at full strength.
“We look forward to a very exciting, high-intensity game.”
Schilling also expects an intense contest against the Raiders.
“We’ve got a lot of seniors on our team and we really want to go out with a bang,” Schilling said. “We expect to go out their and play hard against Fulda. We’re confident in our team and I’m sure they are confident in their team.
“We don’t want any of these games to be our last game until we accomplish our goals. We just have to keep playing hard and play our best.”
Game time Thursday is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. in Worthington.
Adrian 15 24 — 39
Ellsworth 33 36 — 69
Adrian (3FG-2FG-FT-TP): Henning 0-1-3-5, Reyne 0-2-0-4, Kilgore 1-3-4-13, Weidert 0-5-4-14, Recker 1-0-0-3. Totals 2-11-11-39.
Ellsworth (3FG-2FG-FT-TP):Nolte 0-3-4-10, Werner 0-1-2-4, Huisman 2-4-1-15, Ahlers 0-1-0-2, Schilling 0-10-5-25, Leuthold 0-1-1-3, Kvaale 0-4-2-10. Totals 2-24-15-69.