PREP BOYS' BASKETBALL: Panthers top Raiders 65-53WORTHINGTON — The third-seeded Ellsworth Panthers used a balanced scoring effort with timely 3-point shooting and scores in transition off of full-court pressure to topple the second-seeded Fulda Raiders in the semifinals of the Section 3A South boys’ basketball tournament Thursday night at the Worthington High School gymnasium.
By: Lance Knutson, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — The third-seeded Ellsworth Panthers used a balanced scoring effort with timely 3-point shooting and scores in transition off of full-court pressure to topple the second-seeded Fulda Raiders in the semifinals of the Section 3A South boys’ basketball tournament Thursday night at the Worthington High School gymnasium.
A 25-9 scoring run over a six-and-a-half minute stretch midway through the first half helped the Panthers surge to a 19-point lead (35-16) and while the Raiders cut the lead to 10 by the intermission (43-33), Ellsworth’s lead was never challenged the rest of the way.
“We play much better when we are playing up-and-down in transition than we are in a set offense,” Ellsworth head coach JD Roberts said. “We used a press to get the tempo of the game in our favor. When we would take the press off, you could see our style of the game was a little bit different.
“In the beginning of the game, we had some 3s falling and towards the middle of the second half we took the press off and we started living and dying by the 3.”
Casey Schilling, who filled the stat sheet with 26 points, 12 rebounds, nine assists, five blocks and four steals, facilitated the game’s opening score with a pass to Travis Kvaale (10 points and six rebounds) for a 3-pointer 18 seconds into the game.
Matthew Appel (11 points) scored 17 seconds later to pull the Raiders with one point at 3-2, but Fulda would never hold a lead in the contest.
Schilling scored his first points at 16:43 with a drive down the middle of the lane, which was countered by a lob pass from Aaron Tiesler (team-high 17 points) to Keith Gehl a minute later to make it 5-4.
Nick Nolte (eight points) widened Ellsworth’s lead to 10-4 by scoring on a pair of layups in transition, while also making a free throw on a drive to the hoop over the next two minutes.
Todd Peterson (10 points) knocked down a 3-pointer following an offensive rebound by Appel to pull Fulda within 10-7 with 13:16 left, but from there the Panthers started to roll.
Baskets by Schilling, Dalton Huisman (10 points) and Nolte widened the gap to 16-7 before Mic Holinka buried a 3 from the left wing to make it 16-10 with 11:52 left.
However, Ellsworth knocked down a trio of 3s over the next two minutes to push the lead to 27-12 as Kvaale, Mitch Leuthold and Huisman connected, while a pair of free throws from Schilling offset a Peterson basket for Fulda.
Clarke Hein (six points) and Tiesler each hit long 2-pointers for Fulda, but five foul shots from Schilling moved the score to 32-16 before Logan Ahlers nailed a left-wing 3 to give Ellsworth the largest lead of the game at 19 points with 6:46 left in the first half.
“We executed our game plan,” Fulda head coach Colby Pack said. “To (Ellsworth’s) credit, they made shots. Logan Ahlers made a couple of 3s and Travis Kvaale dropped in a couple of his own. They didn’t miss many shots in the first half.
“We did a good job of containing Dalton (Huisman) and Nick (Nolte), two guys who we were game planning to stop as we knew Schilling would get his points. To our credit, our guys didn’t hang their heads and we kept battling.”
Tiesler dropped in another long field goal to make it 35-18 and after a free throw from Kvaale, Fulda started taking better care of the ball, while forcing Ellsworth into mistakes of its own to trim the lead to 10 by the intermission.
Max Dibble started the Raiders’ run with an offensive-rebound putback basket with 5:37 left, while Peterson meshed a 3 off an Andy Oakland assist two minutes later to close within 36-24.
Fulda managed to close the margin to single digits (37-28) with 2:00 left in the half following a bucket from Hein and another long 2 from Tiesler.
However, Schilling scored a pair of layups off steals along with a pair of free throws over the final two minutes, while Fulda received a 3 from Tiesler with 55 seconds left and a free-throw line jump shot from Hein right before the halftime buzzer for the 10-point spread at the intermission.
Following the break, the Raiders were unable to capitalize on the late first-half momentum and the Panthers pushed the lead back to 15 points three minutes in as Ahlers scored in the lane off an assist from Schilling at 16:05 and followed up a minute later with a left-corner 3-pointer for a 48-33 lead.
Fulda’s first field goal of the second half came nearly five minutes in as Tiesler hit a 15-foot jumper from the left baseline at 13:04.
However, Ellsworth pushed the lead to 18 points (53-35) with 11:38 to go as Schilling made a free throw followed by a Kvaale basket and a dunk by Schilling off a steal.
Fulda answered with five points of its own over the next minute as Peterson knocked down two of three free throws followed by an Appel 3-pointer with 10:28 to play to Fulda to within 13 points (53-40).
Following a timeout by the Raiders, Appel dropped in a long baseline 2 to cut the lead to 11 points with 9:26 left, but Schilling countered with a jump shot in the paint 25 seconds later.
Over the next two minutes, Fulda cut the deficit back to single digits as Appel received a lob pass from Oakland in the paint for a bucket with 8:42 left followed by a steal from Appel, which led to a basket by Tiesler a minute later to make it 55-46.
Huisman pushed the Panthers lead back to double digits (58-46) with a 3 from the left corner off an assist to Nolte with 6:49 to play.
Neither side was able to score over the next two minutes until Tiesler sank a pair of charity shots to make it 58-48 with 4:35 left and Appel drained a 15-foot baseline jumper with 4:09 showing to get Fulda within eight points.
Appel’s field goal was the final one made in the game for either side and while Fulda pulled within seven points (60-53) with two free throws from Tiesler and one from Holinka with 90 seconds to play, Ellsworth iced the game with charity shots of its own for the 65-53 final score.
Fulda finishes the season with a 20-8 record.
“I’m very proud of our guys,” Pack said. “We lose a lot of kids to graduation, but hopefully our juniors see something to build on after having a 20-win season for the first time in a long time for Fulda.”
The win improves Ellsworth also to a record of 20-8 and the Panthers will meet a familiar foe in the sub-section championship.
Ellsworth will face Southwest Christian on Saturday at 6:00 p.m. at the R/A Facility at Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall.
The Panthers lost both contest to the Eagles in the regular season with the last loss being a 77-75 loss on Feb. 17.
“We have a senior-dominated team and none of us wants the season to end,” Schilling said. “(Southwest Christian) beat us twice during the regular season. It’s tournament time and anything can happen.
“We just need to keep working hard, have a great day of practice (today) and give it our all on Saturday.”
Ellsworth 43 22 — 65
Fulda 33 20 — 53
Ellsworth (3FG-2FG-FT-TP): Nolte 0-3-2-8, Huisman 2-1-2-10, Ahlers 2-1-0-8, Schilling 0-6-14-26, Leuthold 1-0-0-3, Kvaale 2-1-2-10. Totals 7-12-20-65.
Fulda (3FG-2FG-FT-TP): Holinka 1-0-1-4, Dibble 0-1-1-3, Hein 0-3-0-6, Tiesler 1-5-4-17, Appel 1-4-0-11, Gehl 0-1-0-2, Petersen 2-1-2-10. Totals 5-15-8-53.