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Luverne downs St. James

LUVERNE -- Keyed by an eye-opening 15-2 run midway through the first half, the second-seeded Luverne Cardinals advanced to the semifinals of the Section 3AA South boys' basketball tournament with a 62-50 quarterfinal victory over seventh-seeded St. James.

After several lead changes in the game's first seven minutes, the Saints broke a 12-all tie with a pair of baskets by senior Lucas Sieve, taking a 16-12 lead at the 10:20 mark.

Neither team scored for the next two minutes in the defensive-oriented, physical contest, but the Cardinals were doing a better job on defense -- and when the LHS offense got untracked, the red-clad hosts gave their fans plenty to cheer about.

Andrew DeBoer, Weston Sawtelle and Derek Boeve each contributed to the Cardinal burst that started with a 3-pointer by Sawtelle (eight points, seven rebounds) at the 8:20 mark.

DeBoer (nine points, eight rebounds) came up with three straight plays that helped Luverne take control. After pulling down a rebound on the defensive end, DeBoer scored on an offensive rebound, putting LHS ahead, 17-16, with 5:37 showing on the clock.

Following a backside help steal by DeBoer, Boeve (21 points) scored off a nice inside-out feed from Marc Boelman and the Cardinals held a 19-16 advantage with four minutes to play in the half.

Eighteen seconds later, Neil Kolstad broke a nearly seven-minute Saints' scoring drought with a driving hoop, but the Cardinals countered with eight straight points, building a 27-18 lead with 2:02 left.

Boeve drilled a 3-pointer from the left wing on one LHS possession and then took a nice assist pass from Erik Stegemann and sank a 3-pointer from the right wing.

"We had to locate him," St. James head coach Dan Reinhart, said of Boeve. "That was not always easy to do. He is tall, moves around well and has good range and a nice touch."

DeBoer then capped the Cardinal run with another offensive rebound basket.

After a 3-pointer by Kolstad trimmed the Luverne lead to 27-21, Boelman scored the first of a trio of inside three-point plays, lifting the hosts up 30-21 with 1:28 remaining until intermission.

"We had a nice run at the end of the first half," said LHS head coach Tom Rops. "St. James played well and made us earn our points. We had to work hard on defense and be unselfish on offense."

That teamwork continued in the second half, as the Cardinals stretched their 31-24 lead to a 39-26 bulge by the 14:15 mark.

Another three-point play by Boelman was followed by a 3-pointer from Sawtelle and a sweet jumper off the glass by Jake Clark.

The Saints, who had won three straight games, rallied briefly with a 7-1 run, cutting the lead to 39-33 with 12:06 to play.

But Luverne answered with a 13-2 surge of its own, opening up a commanding 52-35 advantage with 7:04 showing.

DeBoer muscled in a shot underneath and then lobbed a pass into Boelman, who scored, was fouled and made the free throw.

A bit later, Boelman rebounded a missed Cardinal shot and passed the ball out to DeBoer who quickly moved the ball to Boeve for his third 3-pointer of the night.

A second-effort bucket by Sawtelle and a penetrating dishoff from Boeve to Boelman capped the Cardinal run.

Boelman, who finished with 19 points and a team-high 10 rebounds, had two late-game plays for the highlight reel, as he came up with a spectacular shot block at the 5:07 mark and thrilled the home crowd with a fastbreak slam dunk, giving the Cardinals a 60-44 lead with 1:47 to play.

Sieve, Kolstad and Adam Zimmerman led the Saints (12-12) with 15, 14 and 11 points, respectively.

Luverne, which shot 44 percent from the field and outrebounded the Saints (37-25), will play third-seeded Martin County West at Redwood Falls Thursday.

St. James 24 26 -- 50

Luverne 31 31 -- 62

St. James (3FG-2FG-FT-TP): Pinke 0-1-1-3, Kolstad 1-5-1-14, Zimmerman 3-1-0-11, Sieve 0-7-1-15, Doll 0-2-1-5, Johnson 0-1-0-2. Totals: 4-17-4-50.

Luverne (3FG-2FG-FT-TP): Clark 0-2-1-5, Boelman 0-7-5-19, Sawtelle 2-1-0-8, Boeve 3-2-8-21, DeBoer 0-4-1-9. Totals: 5-16-15-62.