MEN'S BASKETBALL: Minnesota West holds on against Central LakesWORTHINGTON — The Minnesota West men’s basketball team had to work for a 79-74 non-conference victory against Central Lakes on Sunday. The Bluejays (7-3 overall) took a 10-point 74-64 lead with 2 minutes, 28 seconds left before the Raiders closed the game on a 10-5 run.
WORTHINGTON — The Minnesota West men’s basketball team had to work for a 79-74 non-conference victory against Central Lakes on Sunday.
The Bluejays (7-3 overall) took a 10-point 74-64 lead with 2 minutes, 28 seconds left before the Raiders closed the game on a 10-5 run.
Two Orie Brown free throws with just less than 2½ minutes handed MW its double-digit advantage.
But the Raiders, who used size and quickness to offset the Bluejays’ attack, turned to 5-foot-8 guard Andre Thomas to crawl back into the game.
Thomas made a steal and transitioned it into a layup with 1:48 remaining before a Minnesota West turnover gave the ball back to Central Lakes.
This time, Thomas connected with a top-of-the-key 3-pointer to cut the Bluejays’ lead to 74-69 with 1:25 left.
Thomas led the Raiders with 21 points, while 6-7 forward Brent Koehler used his size to add 19 points.
Central Lakes’ roster features eight players standing 6-5 or taller. At 6-4, Cody Harris and A.J. Ourada are the tallest Minnesota West players.
“That was a very good effort by our guys because (Central Lakes) is a very good team with quickness and more size than us at several positions,” MW head coach Justin Heckenlaible said. “We spotted them height at every position, except at point guard. So, we had to battle them on the boards and we made timely shots.”
The timely shots Heckenlaible referred to were four second-half 3-pointers, two of which were provided by Tyler Aquallo. Central Lakes were held without a second-half 3-point basket.
“That was a benefit of sharing the ball,” Aquallo said. “I believe we shared the ball really well and some open looks were there for us.”
Aquallo led all scorers with 23 points, while Brown ended up with 15 more, Alan Green had 11 and Mitch Hopkins chipped in 10.
In the final minute, Green handed the Bluejays a 76-69 edge on a backdoor layup, but the Raiders countered with a layup as 41 seconds were showing.
Despite Aquallo’s 9 of 10 performance at the foul line, Minnesota West struggled with its free-throw shooting, missing 18 foul shots in the game.
“Free throws are the No. 1 thing for my game,” Aquallo said. “I work on that aspect a lot.”
As 30 seconds remained, Brown missed a pair of free throws, but Central Lakes couldn’t capitalize. The Raiders missed a layup and a right-wing 3-point shot on their ensuing possession before fouling Green with 16 ticks left.
Green made 1 of 2 free throws for a 77-71 Bluejays lead.
The Raiders missed another 3-point attempt —this one from Brandon Davis — gave Minnesota West a sigh of relief.
“Out of all the adversity that we had to overcome in this game, we still posted a win,” Heckenlaible said.
With 6 seconds to go, Aquallo drained a pair of free throws, but the margin settled at five points as Thomas buried a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
Minnesota West 76,
Fond Du Lac 62
The Bluejays won by 14 points in a Minnesota College Athletic Conference crossover game Saturday at Worthington High School.