STATE BASKETBALL: SWC falls to B-B-E 54-45 in the Class A championshipMINNEAPOLIS — Nobody shed any tears, nobody put the blame on others. Nobody threw a tantrum.
MINNEAPOLIS — Nobody shed any tears, nobody put the blame on others. Nobody threw a tantrum.
Instead, the members of the Southwest Christian boys’ basketball team kept their composure and congratulated their opponents as the Class A state championship came to an end on Saturday afternoon.
The Eagles were on the losing end, dropping a 54-45 contest against undefeated Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa and ending their season with a second-place finish.
It isn’t how the team had hoped the state tournament would end, but the Eagles were also aware that a second-place finish is no reason to hang their heads.
“Toward the end it didn’t go our way, but I’m just proud of my team right now for the way they fought and got after the ball there at the end,” SWC senior forward Zach Huisken said. “We were in it until the end. No one gave up and I’m really proud of that. I’m just thankful that we had this opportunity. We’ve been blessed all season and there’s nothing to hang our heads about.”
The Eagles got off to a good start in the championship. By halftime, SWC had a 30-26 lead and had seen success on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball.
In the first half, the Eagles shot 52 percent from the field and hit 40 percent of their free-throw shots. For a team that averaged a 50.8 field goal percentage during the regular season, the Eagles were right on track.
Entering the intermission, SWC didn’t have much to complain about.
“We came out of the gates well,” SWC coach Jamie Pap said. “The guys were determined after the semifinal game because we were just disappointed that we didn’t put forth our best effort in that game and, therefore, we felt very fortunate to be in this game at all. So the guys came out strong. But in the second half the shots just wouldn’t fall. The guys worked hard.”
But things didn’t go so well in the second half.
The Jaguars went on a 16-4 run to give B-B-E its first substantial lead of the game (42-34) with eight minutes left to play in the game.
Over the next five minutes, the Eagles chipped away at B-B-E’s lead. SWC eventually took the lead when Huisken notched a 3-point play to make it a 45-44 contest with 3:41 remaining.
But the Eagles wouldn’t score any more points the rest of the game. The Jaguars would go on a 10-0 run to close out the game and walk away with the Class A championship with a 54-45 victory.
“It’s really unfortunate that we came out on this side,” SWC senior Andrew Top said. “That’s never fun. But I don’t think we probably could’ve played any harder. We just made some poor decisions I think, especially me. When one person lets something get to them or makes a mistake it kind of starts at the top and filters through to everybody.
“We had a tough time hitting shots again. It seemed like there was a lid on the rim for us and we couldn’t get them to fall the whole game.”
The Eagles shot just 18.5 percent (5-for-27) from the field in the second half, a rarity for the strong-shooting team.
But the thing that hurt the Eagles the most wasn’t offensive, but, rather, the team’s defense.
Regardless of the 22 points SWC gave up off of turnovers — the team committed 23 turnovers, 10 more than the Eagles’ regular season average — it was the removal of guard Klint Knutson halfway through the second half that hurt the Eagles the most.
Knutson had been guarding B-B-E’s star shooter Brian Goodwin the whole game, keeping him in check and stifling the Jaguars’ offensive threat.
But Knutson was charged his fifth foul of the game with 8:16 left to play with his team down 42-34. The Eagles were able to eventually take the lead, but Pap admitted their eventual defeat was in part to having Knutson on the bench and unable to contribute defensively.
“It hurt me when Klint went out and I couldn’t have him against Goodwin,” Pap said. “Him not being in there makes a big difference for us. Klint’s kind of our leader defensively. He was doing a good job against Goodwin and a couple of those fouls could’ve gone either way. When they took him out of the game, that really hurt us and you could definitely see a difference.”
The Eagles were led by Huisken’s 17 points, 16 rebounds and four blocks. Dominic Nibbelink added nine points and three rebounds, Top had six points and six rebounds, while Keeran Sampson added six points, four points and two steals for SWC.
The Jaguars were led by Goodwin’s 29 points and two rebounds. Billy Borgerding added nine points and seven rebounds, while Connor Goodwin had eight points and 10 rebounds.
But regardless of the outcome, the coaching staff is walking away with pride in their team.
“Going into this game today all we wanted was to leave with no regrets,” Pap said. “We just wanted to go out there and play our hearts out and leave it on the floor. I’m disappointed, but if you had told me at the beginning of the year that we’d be second in the state I would’ve definitely taken it. Belgrade did great. They played a great game.”
The Eagles were unable to spoil B-B-E’s undefeated season. The Jaguars finished the year with a 33-0 record and have only lost once in the past two seasons.
SWC finished the year with a 28-2 record, the team’s only losses coming in the championship game and to Worthington during the regular season.
Despite the sour ending to a remarkable season, the Eagles are trying to find all the positives they can from the season.
“I think it makes this loss easier that we go out there to play basketball knowing that basketball’s just a game,” Top said. “When you play with that mentality that normally helps you to relax and have fun during the game. We had a tough time doing that today. But we’re not living to win a state championship; we’re trying to live our lives for the Lord. That’s what’s important. Not the outcome of the game.”
B-B-E 26 28 — 54
SWC 30 15 — 45
B-B-E (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) Kuefler 0-1-3-5, Borgerding 0-2-5-9, Montbriand 1-0-0-3, B. Goodwin 0-10-9-29, C. Goodwin 0-4-0-8. Total 1-17-17-54.
SWC (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) Knutson 1-1-0-5, Top 0-2-2-6, Nibbelink 1-3-0-9, Sampson 1-1-1-6, Huisken 0-7-3-17, Talsma 0-1-0-2. Total 3-15-6-45.
Daily Globe Sports Reporter Jocelyn Syrstad can be reached at 376-7335.