PREP BOYS BASKETBALL: MLA mauls NicolletMOUNTAIN LAKE — Carter Kirk used all of his 6-foot-7 frame to rack up 26 points, 14 rebounds and swat away five shots to lead the Mountain Lake Area Wolverines to a dominant 81-37 win over the Nicollet Raiders during a Class A Boys Basketball Section 2 Southern Division Tournament quarterfinal game Monday.
By: Jordan Willi, Worthington Daily Globe
MOUNTAIN LAKE — Carter Kirk used all of his 6-foot-7 frame to rack up 26 points, 14 rebounds and swat away five shots to lead the Mountain Lake Area Wolverines to a dominant 81-37 win over the Nicollet Raiders during a Class A Boys Basketball Section 2 Southern Division Tournament quarterfinal game Monday.
“I feel like we played well as a team,” Kirk said. “It wasn’t one or two people scoring all the points, it was everyone contributing. We were also able to take care of the ball and play strong defense.”
The Wolverines came out ready to play early in the first half, scoring eight straight points in the first 2 minutes before the Raiders made their first shot of the game.
“They are a good team and they are No. 1 for a reason,” Nicollet coach Craig Schafer said. “They are extremely strong inside, even stronger than we expected them to be.”
Before Nicollet knew what hit them, Mountain Lake Area was up 29-6 with 7:44 remaining in the first half.
“I felt that we came out better than we did in past few games,” MLA center Josiah Stoesz said. “We wanted to come out strong in this game and keep our intensity up. I feel like we did that tonight.”
Andrew Hempeck, Stoesz and Kirk combined for 20 of the Wolverines’ first 29 points in the opening half, with all of their shots coming from inside the lane.
“We were able to pound the offensive boards tonight and get a lot of points off of that,” MLA head coach Shawn Naas said. “We could do that because we moved the ball, offensively, and got Nicollet out of position. Then, we were able to get the ball to our big guys for the basket.”
The Wolverines won the rebounding battle 47-19.
Nicollet gained some life halfway through the first half when Dalton Rosin scored eight points within a 2-minute span to lead the Raiders on a 9-4 run and cut the Wolverines lead to 16.
“Getting them to turn the ball over was the big thing,” Naas said. “However, we were turning the ball back over and weren’t converting on all of our chances. We have to be able to convert on those opportunities.”
However, MLA went on a run of its own, outscoring Nicollet 12-4 in the final 5 minutes to take a 45-21 lead at halftime.
“I don’t question our effort at all, because we were outmatched and we just got outplayed tonight,” Schafer said. “I’m proud of our kids and I feel they played their hardest. We did all we could against a really good team that is going to do things here in the playoffs.”
In the second half, the Wolverines ramped up their intensity even more, scoring 27 points before the Raiders were able to break the 30-point mark.
“We got stops on defense and were able to go down and score off those stops, which led to our early lead,” Stoesz said. “Everyone was doing their part and playing defense as well as making shots down low.”
Mountain Lake Area cruised the rest of the way, allowing Nicollet to score just five more points in the final 9 minutes.
Nicollet finished the season 4-18 and will graduate three seniors including Rosin, Travis Bode and Evan Guffey.
“I told our guys that, if they play their hardest and give their all, they can hold their heads high,” Schafer said. “You can’t win them all and sometimes it is a good lesson to get pounded once in a while by another team.”
The Wolverines (21-5) advanced to the Southern Division semifinals and will face Mankato Loyola at 6 p.m. Thursday at St. James Area High School.
“If we keep playing like this and stay mistake-free, we have a good shot of making a run in the playoffs,” Kirk said. “But we have to take it one game at a time.”
Daily Globe Reporter Jordan Willi
may be reached at 376-7335.
MOUNTIAN LAKE AREA 81,
NICOLLET (4-18): Bloemke 2 0-0 5; Guffey 2 2-2 6; Hendrycks 3 0-2 6; Rosin 5 3-4 13; Fischer 1 0-0 2; Christenson 1 3-4 5. Totals: 14 9-12 37.
MOUNTAIN LAKE AREA (21-5): Harder 0 2-2 2; Klassen 4 1-2 9; Hempeck 6 0-1 13; Dickens 1 2-2 4; Stoesz 8 3-4 19; Grev 1 0-1 2; Kirk 11 2-2 26; Fast 1 0-2 2; Schultz 2 0-0 4. Totals: 34 12-22 81.
Nicollet 21 16 — 37
MLA 45 36 — 81
3-Point Goals: Nicollet 1 (Bloemke); MLA 1 (Hempeck). Rebounds: Nicollet 19 (Christenson 7); MLA 47 (Stoesz 7, Kirk 14). Total Assists: Nicollet 8 (Christenson 4); MLA 15 (Hempeck 6). Steals: Nicollet 7; MLA 20 (Hempeck 6). Blocked Shots: Nicollet 0; MLA 8 (Kirk 5). Turnovers: Nicollet 25, MLA 16.