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Top-seeded Ellsworth cruises past H-BC

WORTHINGTON -- Getting another triple double from all-around sensation Cody Schilling, along with double figure scoring from three other players, defending Class A state champion Ellsworth rolled to an impressive 88-47 victory over Hills-Beaver Creek Saturday afternoon in the opening game of the Section 3A South sub-section boys' basketball tournament quarterfinals.

The victory vaults the Panthers (25-2) into Tuesday night's semifinals where they will tangle with Murray County Central in a 6 p.m. contest at Worthington.

Spreading the ball around and getting open looks from each of its shooters, Ellsworth stretched a slim 12-10 lead into a huge 42-16 bulge with a 32-6 run over a span of about 11 minutes midway through the first half.

With a 46-20 halftime lead, the Panthers nearly duplicated that performance in the second half, breaking from a 50-27 advantage with 14:09 left to a commanding 86-39 lead with just under four minutes to play.

"We really played well on defense," praised Panther head coach Markus Okeson. "That defensive effort sparked good offensive surges for us in each half. Putting four players in double figures and having two more score eight points is a good indicator of the balance that we have."

Schilling, who finished the game with 26 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists and three shot blocks, now has 3,248 varsity career points -- which puts him 118 behind Minnesota's all-time boys' scoring Isaiah Dahlman (Braham Area, Class of 2006), who tallied 3,366.

Trevor Gruis, a 6-8 sophomore, had another impressive all-around game too, as netted 14 points, pulled down a team-high 12 rebounds, blocked five Patriot shots and passed for seven assists.

"Trevor is a good passer," noted Okeson. "He continues to be a force for us on the inside and he finds cutters very well in our offensive patterns."

The Panthers, who made an incredible 18-of-19 free throws (95 percent) for the game, sank a dozen three-pointers in the game and finished 29-of-62 (47 percent) from the field, making 12-of-30 (40 percent) from beyond the arc and a solid 17-of-32 (53 percent) from inside the 3-point line.

Hitting five of those three-pointers was 6-2 junior sharpshooter Adam Van Der Stoep, who finished with 15 points.

Schilling nailed four timely treys -- including two in a row, from different locations -- to cap the Panther first half burst, making the score 39-16 with 4:11 to play.

Tom Nolte, a 6-0 junior guard, connected twice from behind the arc -- including one that followed Schilling's back-to-back bombs -- that increased Ellsworth's lead to 42-16 with 3:25 left in the first half. Nolte finished with 11 points for the Panthers.

Brandon Gruis (five assists, eight points) was the fourth Ellsworth player to hit a three-pointer, while hard-working 6-4 senior veteran Weston DeBerg also scored eight points.

Jordan Hinrichs, a 6-3 senior, scored four timely points and set several solid screens -- including one for Schilling on the last play of the first half that led to a wide-open lay-up for Brandon Gruis at the buzzer.

"Those are the kind of teamwork plays that make us effective," noted Okeson. "Our kids understand their roles and take pride in them."

The Patriots, who did not have a senior in the starting line-up, stayed close for the game's first six minutes -- before DeBerg drew a charge that seemed to ignite that first Ellsworth scoring burst.

H-BC, which finished its season with an 11-14 record, shot 42 percent from the field (21-of-50) and opened the second half by keeping pace, scoring seven of the first 11 points, trimming the lead to 50-27. But Ellsworth put the game out-of-reach with its 36-12 run to open up a 47-point lead.

Andrew Scholten (13 points), Halden Van Wyhe (nine points, six assists) and Terence Reid (nine points, six rebounds) each had solid games for the Patriots.

A nice up-and-under by Reid had trimmed the Panther lead to 22-13 about eight minutes into the game and his slashing drive early in the second half cut the margin to 50-25. A nice inside move by Scholten capped that Patriot surge, making the score 50-27.

But a three-pointer by Schilling got the Panthers going again.

H-BC 20 27 -- 47

Ellsworth 46 42 -- 88

H-BC (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) Heath Van Wyhe 0-1-0-2, Halden Van Wyhe 0-4-1-9, Bass 0-2-0-4, Wiertzema 0-1-1-3, Reid 1-3-0-9, Van Batavia 0-1-1-3, Larson 0-1-0-2, Scholten 0-6-1-13, Tuene 0-1-0-2. Totals 1-20-4-47.

Ellsworth (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) Nolte 2-1-3-11, DeBerg 0-3-2-8, Cody Schilling 4-4-6-26, Hinrichs 0-2-0-4, Van Der Stoep 5-0-0-15, B.Gruis 1-1-3-8, T.Gruis 0-6-2-14, Casey Schilling 0-0-2-2. Totals 12-17-18-88.