BOYS' BASKETBALL: Montevideo advances past Windom

MARSHALL -- As they have done in nearly every game all season, the young and talented Windom Eagles put together an impressive surge Thursday night in the Section 3AA championship game at Southwest Minnesota State University.

Photo Courtesy of T.J. Bartelt/West Central Tribune Lee Holt of Windom gets the ball in the post against Montevideo during their Section 3AA boys basketball championship game Thursday at Marshall.

MARSHALL -- As they have done in nearly every game all season, the young and talented Windom Eagles put together an impressive surge Thursday night in the Section 3AA championship game at Southwest Minnesota State University.

The Eagles, who entered the contest having won eight of their last 10 games, trailed by 10 points at halftime to defending section champion Montevideo.

But getting good offensive balance and numerous defensive stops, Windom opened the second half strong and capped a 17-7 run, which tied the score at 43-43, with nine minutes and 38 seconds remaining.

Montevideo, however, countered with a 6-0 surge of its own and then the Thunderhawks held off several Eagle rallies and prevailed down the stretch, earning a 64-50 victory and a second consecutive trip to the state boys' basketball tournament.

"I am so proud of how our guys played tonight," Windom head coach Corey Christopher said after his young squad received the second-place silver medals and the section runner-up trophy. "Our effort was super in this game, as it has been the entire season. This experience will serve as a building block to the future."


The Eagles, who start one senior, two sophomores and two freshmen, finished the season as one of the final two teams still playing in Class 3AA -- among the 16 that started tournament play two weeks ago.

After an action-packed first half, the Thunderhawks emerged with a 36-26 advantage, capping a 12-5 run with a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by 6-foot-1 sophomore forward Ryan Boike -- off an assist from 6-1 senior veteran Eric Brandon (13 points, 11 rebounds, six assists, two steals).

"That's what Eric does," explained first-year Montevideo head coach Dan Douglas about his play-making guard. "He is patient and he drew the defense to him and then got the ball to the kid (Boike) who was hitting the shots."

The shot by Boike's was his fourth 3-pointer of the first half and the sixth by the Thunderhawks before intermission.

The Eagles, who finish the season with a fine 17-11 record, came out after the halftime break with a quick 8-2 surge, cutting the lead to 38-34 after 6-0 sophomore guard Spenser Kipfer (10 points, three rebounds, two steals, one assist) knocked down a contested jump shot in the lane.

Freshman Lee Holt, who stands 6-3 and moves well, scored Windom's first basket of the second half, taking an assist pass from 6-0 senior guard Ryan Gilbertson and making his third hook shot of the game.

Travis Mattson, a 6-3 sophomore forward, connected on a short jumper off a drive into the lane, trimming Montevideo's lead to 36-30 at the 16:31 mark of the second half.

Mattson, who finished with 14 points, later sank a pair of free throws and Kipfer's jumper capped the first Eagle burst, making the score 38-34 with 12:49 to play.


After another defensive stop, 5-11 sophomore guard Joel Riordan made a nice feed inside to 6-5 freshman forward Jake Holt (seven rebounds, three steals) and his strong move to the hoop, brought Windom to within two points, 38-36, forcing Douglas to call a timeout with 12:03 on the clock.

That 10-2 run over the first 5:57 of the second half energized the large crowd of Eagle fans, as they saw their team doing what it has often done -- put together an impressive surge and dominate segments of a contest.

"We were on a mission after halftime to make it a close game again, in short order," declared Christopher. "That type of effort is really a reflection of the type of character this team has shown."

A baseline jumper by 6-2 freshman forward Jake Douglas, the coach's son, got Montevideo untracked after the timeout.

But the Eagles were not finished.

Lee Holt, who had scored 11 points in the first half and finished the game with 15 points and six rebounds, netted another driving hook and with 11:28 showing, Windom was again within two, 40-38.

Brandon drilled a 3-pointer to boost the Thunderhawk advantage to five, but 5-9 sophomore guard Levi Gotto -- who had just re-entered the game for the Eagles -- connected on a clutch 3-pointer at the 10:18 mark, making it a two-point game again, 43-41.

After a defensive rebound by Jake Holt, Mattson fired a pass to Gilbertson (two assists, one steal) who sank a 16-footer that tied the game at 43-all with 9:38 to play.


But as they did many times in the first half, the Thunderhawks responded and took the lead back.

Again it was Jake Douglas that started things for Montevideo, hitting a jumper from the left wing. Jeff Jerve scored on an inbounds play for the Thunderhawks and 6-2 junior reserve Troy Hendrickson hit his only shot of the game -- a jumper from the top of the key --- and with 7:27 left, Montevideo was up six, 49-43.

Sixteen seconds later, Kipfer took a handoff from Lee Holt and converted a three-point play off a tough pull-up jumper, bringing the Eagles back to within three, 49-46.

A pair of free throws by Brandon gave the Thunderhawks a five-point edge, but Mattson sank two from the line at the 6:31 mark, making the score 51-48.

But the Eagles, who were hammered hard on a shot attempt -- no call -- a possession later, never got closer.

Boike (game-high 19 points, four rebounds, five blocks) sank his first 3-pointer of the second half with 5:32 remaining, giving Montevideo a six-point advantage, 54-48.

Over the closing minutes, the Eagles could not get many open looks and the Thunderhawks -- after missing three straight from the line -- began sinking free throws and extending the lead.

A nifty pass from Brandon to Jerve (14 points, nine rebounds) made the score 56-48 at the 3:31 mark and then Brandon (4-for-4), Boike (2-for-2) and Jerve (2-for-2) clinched the contest at the free throw stripe.


"Our seniors really stepped up at the end and made the finishing plays for us," said Douglas, who was the C-squad boys' coach at Montevideo last year after 16 seasons as the head girls' basketball coach for the Thunderhawks. "Windom kept coming at us all game long and never gave up. We needed contributions from all of our players and each of them came through for us."

The Eagles, who shot 38 percent from the field (18-of-47), 36 percent on 3-pointers (4-of-11) and 62 percent at the line (10-of-16), continued to hustle and came up with several loose balls and long rebounds (off their own missed shots). But other than two free throws by Gotto, Windom was not able to match the late-game free throw shooting by Montevideo.

The Thunderhawks, who shot 45 percent (15-of-33) on 2-point field goals and 57 percent (8-of-14) from behind the arc, made 10-of-13 free throws for 76 percent.

Behind the hot-shooting of Boike and 6-0 freshman guard Brett Bergeson, Montevideo claimed early leads of 9-2 and 19-8, before the Eagles rallied with a 13-5 run which trimmed the lead to 24-21 with 4:30 left in the first half.

A trio of offensive-rebound baskets by Lee Holt and 3-pointers each from Kipfer and Mattson highlighted that initial Eagle comeback.

But a 3-pointer by Bergeson pushed Montevideo's lead back to six and then the Thunderhawks scored nine of the next 14 points to claim their 10-point halftime lead.

Montevideo will take a 21-7 record to Williams Arena for an 8 p.m. Wednesday game against either Norwood Young America or Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted as those two teams are the Section 5AA finalists.

Montevideo 36 28 -- 64


Windom 26 24 -- 50

Windom (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) Gilbertson 0-1-0-2, Kipfer 1-3-1-10, L.Holt 0-7-1-15, Gotto 1-0-3-6, Mattson 2-2-4-14, J.Holt 0-1-1-3. Totals 4-14-10-50.

Montevideo (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) Brandon 1-2-6-13, Hendrickson 0-1-0-2, Boike 5-1-2-19, Ackerman 0-1-0-2, Bergeson 2-0-0-6, Jerve 0-6-2-14, Douglas 0-4-0-8. Totals 8-15-10-64.

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