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Section 3AA boys basketball: JCC tops PA

By LES KNUTSON

The Globe

WINDOM -- Leading from start to finish, the second-seeded Jackson County Central Huskies held off numerous challenges by the third-seeded Pipestone Area Arrows Thursday night as they won their Section 3AA semifinal matchup to join top-seeded St. James in the South Sub-Section championship game.

The Saints defeated Fairmont 58-52 in Thursday’s first game, also on the Windom court.

JCC and St. James are scheduled to play for the sub-section title Saturday in Worthington, beginning at noon.

Sparked by a dozen first-half points by 6-3 senior guard Parker Jones, St. James earned a 25-18 lead on the fifth-seeded Cardinals by intermission. The Saints stayed ahead through the game’s final 18 minutes, despite strong scoring efforts by Fairmont’s Nicholas Eversman (all 11 of his points in the second half) and Zach Jorgensen, who scored nine of his team’s 34 second-half points.

Jorgensen, a 6-2 freshman guard, finished with 11 points to share the lead in scoring with Eversman for the Cardinals, who completed their season with a 13-14 overall record.

St. James advances with a record of 17-8, while JCC takes an 18-9 record into the next game.

JCC 66, PA 56

Rudy Voss, a strong 6-3 junior guard, did everything for Huskies Thursday night. He scored 13 of his team’s first 26 points, including scoring off a hard drive on the game’s first possession.

In the second half, Voss became more of a facilitator, handling the ball and dishing off assist after assist as JCC opened up several double-figure leads.

Andrew Hesebeck, a hard-working 6-4 junior forward, was a dominant force off the defensive boards for the Huskies and was the recipient of numerous assist passes from Voss. Hesebeck scored 14 points after intermission, finishing with a team-leading total of 19.

Another big scorer for JCC was 5-8 junior guard Jack Brinkman, who connected on three straight 3-pointers for the Huskies to begin the second half, helping stretch a 34-27 halftime advantage to leads of 40-29 and 45-34. Brinkman caught assist passes from Voss, then Hesebeck, and then Voss again as JCC came out firing in the opening minutes after the break.

A dandy spin move down the lane for a driving layup by Voss (at the 14:42 mark for a 42-29 lead) was the only JCC basket not scored by Brinkman during the first six minutes of the second half.

A bit later, Bradley Buhl fed Parker Benda with a nifty pass for a JCC hoop underneath and the Huskies were up 47-36.

Pipestone Area senior Cole Zephier, a 6-4 senior forward, responded for the Arrows with three straight buckets -- starting with a spectacular shot after falling to the floor after snagging an offensive rebound. Zephier’s second basket of that spurt came on a breakaway layup after a steal and assist from 5-10 freshman guard Connor Zephier. At the 6:48 mark, Zephier scored inside over Hesebeck, capping a 6-0 PA run and slicing JCC’s lead to 47-42.

Hesebeck countered with a three-point play and scored again -- off a beautiful pass from Voss -- and with 5:45 to play, it was a 10-point lead (52-42) for the Huskies.

Noah Carr scored for JCC on a strong baseline drive, PA’s Cody Thompson fired in a 3-pointer and Voss found Hesebeck again for a layup to make the score 56-46 with 4:20 to play.

JCC’s Jordan Hassing, who guarded PA’s high-scoring 6-4 senior forward Josh Tinklenberg much of the night, blocked a shot for the Huskies stopping an Arrows possession.

Later, after Thompson sank a pair of free throws, Voss drove and dished to Hesebeck for another score. PA senior guard Braeden Rieck, who was a perfect 8-of-8 for the game at the free throw line, made a pair with just under three minutes to play which made the score 58-50.

At the 2:43 mark, Cole Zephier drew a charge on Voss and 14 seconds later Josh Tinklenberg converted a pair of free throws and the Arrows were within six, 58-52.

Again, Voss found Hesebeck who converted a three-point play and with 2:22 remaining, it was 61-52 JCC.

Brinkman (16 points) made a pair of free throws, Carr (eight points) made one from the line and Hesebeck sank two more in the closing seconds. After another Hesebeck defensive rebound, Brinkman dribbled out the clock and the Huskies extended their season with a 10-point victory over a team that played three quality games against them this winter.

JCC won 80-66 at Jackson Jan. 5 and the Arrows won 46-42 at Pipestone on Feb. 5.

Tinklenberg scored nine of his team-high 15 points in the first half for the Arrows, while 6-3 senior forward Isaiah Byrnes scored all eight of his points before intermission. Cole Zephier scored 10 of his 14 in the second half and Rieck finished with 12 points, six in each half.

The Arrows ended another fine season with an overall record of 14-12.

JCC, which had first-half leads of 10-4, 19-12 and 32-23, had six players score in the game’s first 18 minutes as Voss (13), Brinkman (five), Carr (five), Hesebeck (five), Hassing (three) and Buhl (three) all scored for the Huskies, who made 10 3-point shots in the game.

Pipestone Area 27 56

JCC 34 66

PIPESTONE AREA (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) Rieck 0-2-8-12, Thompson 1-0-2-5, Tinklenberg 0-5-5-15, Cole Zephier 0-7-0-14, Brynes 2-1-0-8, Homann 0-1-0-2. Totals 3-16-15-56.

JACKSON COUNTY CENTRAL (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) Carr 0-3-2-8, Voss 3-3-0-15, Buhl 1-0-0-3, Benda 0-1-0-2, Brinkman 4-0-4-16, Hassing 1-0-0-3, Hesebeck 1-6-4-19. Totals 10-13-10-66.

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