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Section 3A boys basketball: W-WG upends MCC

Westbrook-Walnut Grove forward Wyatt Christians (21) is fouled by MCC defender Blake Schmitz (20) as he attempts a shot in South Section 3A boys basketball action Thursday night. (Tim Middagh / The Globe)

By AARON HAGEN

The Globe

WORTHINGTON -- Andrew Quade said his team doesn’t normally shoot free throws that well.

But in Thursday’s South Section 3A boys basketball, Quade and Westbrook-Walnut Grove didn’t miss in the final three minutes to pull away from Murray County Central for a 75-68 victory.

“We do not usually shoot like that, so it was good timing, I guess,” he said. “March Madness, you never know what will happen.”

In a game that was never out of reach for either team, the Chargers had a two-point lead with 2:35 remaining.

From there, W-WG made eight of eight from the foul line.

“We shoot them all the time,” Chargers’ head coach Derrick Jenniges said. “It does help to get to the line as often as we did tonight because it’s not like you haven’t been there in a year and a half. It was also the seniors stepping to the line and making the shots.”

Five different players made two free throws in the final minutes: Parker Freeburg, Wyatt Christians, Quade, Ethan Mischke and Nathan Ross.

“It was kind of a roller coaster of a game,” Quade said. “We started out in the first half and it seemed like we couldn’t miss a shot. We went into halftime up by eight after they got a late score. They just came out with a really good offense. We kind of had to switch defenses back and forth. We just made shots at the end and made free throws when we needed to.”

With the win, the third-seeded Chargers will face top-seeded Southwest Christian at Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall for the sub-section championship.

“It feels awesome to go back to Marshall again. We were there a couple years ago, it’s just the best feeling when you’re on a team like this with these incredible guys,” Ross said. “It was a good game. I think everybody played well. Shots were going in, they didn’t for me last game, so it was good to have them go in. That was nice.”

W-WG opened up a 10-point lead in the first half, but the second half was close throughout.

“They did a good job getting back into it,” said Ross, who scored a team-high 26 points. “They started making shots and ours started to not go in, but we got back to making them again and ended up on top.”

MCC’s rally was in large part due to Mason Woldt’s inside presence. The 6-3 senior scored a game-high 28 points on 14-for-18 shooting.

“We were playing a 3-2 zone and he came out right in the middle of the paint and he was hitting floaters,” Quade said. “He has a soft touch, so he’s a good shot.”

Behind 12 points from Woldt, the Rebels opened the second half on a 14-7 spurt and were within one.

The game would be tied on multiple occasions, with the last time being after a 3 from MCC’s Noah Boerboom as the score was knotted at 56. Freeburg (12 points) answered with a free throw and Ross made a triple and a jumper to push the lead.

Boerboom made another 3 and Nate Everson hit a shot as the Rebels were again within one (62-61).

“We had to trust our offense,” Quade said. “We were trying to get stops down there, but it wasn’t happening. We just had to trust our offense, Ethan Mischke and Nathan Ross, they hit so many outside shots, it was unbelievable. And Parker Freeburg kept it going down low.”

Mischke (18 points) made a jumper and Quade (10 points) hit a free throw to push the lead to four. From there, W-WG didn’t make another field goal, but hit all 10 free throws to seal the win.

“We have veteran players and they’ve played in big games before,” Jenniges said. “They showed that. We’re most proud of our three sophomores that came off the bench today. They didn’t score baskets and they didn’t get lots of rebounds, but they really contributed. When you get a contribution from a whole group and everybody has a little buy-in on that, that really goes a long ways.”

SWC and W-WG split the regular season series, with each team winning at home.

“Last year we had a good team and we fell short of Marshall,” Quade said. “We always wanted to get there. Up at Marshall, longer court and a different atmosphere, it’s just going to be crazy.”

Westbrook-Walnut Grove 37 75

Murray County Central 29 68

W-WG (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) Mischke 2-4-4-18, Lien 0-1-0-2, Christians 0-2-3-7, Ross 4-5-4-26, Quade 0-3-4-10, Freeburg 0-4-4-12. Totals 6-19-19-75.

MCC (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) Everson 2-1-2-10, Benda 0-4-0-8, Boerboom 2-0-0-6, Pierson 0-1-0-2, Schmitz 2-3-0-12, Woldt 0-14-0-28, Wajer 0-1-0-2. Totals 6-24-2-68.