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College basketball: Huisken, Schilling help Augustana advance

THOMAS ELNESSSpecial to the Daily Globe FRISCO, Texas -- Determination and persistence pushed the Augustana University's men's basketball team into the Division II Final Four with an 86-79 win over Tarleton State Wednesday night.The Vikings of Si...

THOMAS ELNESS
Special to the Daily Globe

FRISCO, Texas - Determination and persistence pushed the Augustana University’s men’s basketball team into the Division II Final Four with an 86-79 win over Tarleton State Wednesday night.
The Vikings of Sioux Falls, S.D., entered the Division II tournament as the No. 2 seed and Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference champions.
Augustana’s multiple award-winning senior center, Daniel Jansen of Orange City, Iowa, sat the game out after sustaining a left leg injury in Tuesday’s practice. His return looks unlikely for Thursday’s game after warming up with debilitating limp.
The void in scoring and height left an unfamiliar gap for the Vikings. Jansen has started every game in his career at Augustana and is the school’s all-time leading scorer.
Augustana trailed 37-29 at halftime after the Texans made eight 3-point baskets and were able to slow down the Jansen-less Vikings.
Southwest Minnesota Christian High School graduate Zach Huisken, originally from Chandler, played an unusual 31 minutes and recorded 13 points, eight rebounds and two assists in Jansen’s unexpected absence.
“I found out two minutes before the game that I was starting,” Huisken, a junior, said. “I played the best basketball I’ve played in three years.”
His parents, Kurt and Dianne Huisken, noticed a higher level of confidence in their son.
“He was a leader tonight,” the 6-9 center’s mother said, noticing his presence both as a scorer and a vocal leader.
Huisken was not the only player to step into a leadership role often filled by Jansen.
Casey Schilling, an Ellsworth High School graduate and senior forward, had a double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds, but his contributions were not limited to his stat line.
“When you lose Dan, we almost wanted to get this one for him,” Schilling said after playing just under 40 minutes. “Me and Al (Richter) talked before the game and we said, ‘This is on us.”
Richter, a Lakeville native and the team’s only other senior, led Augustana with 32 points, including making 11 of 16 free throws and five of six three-point attempts.
Augustana improves to 32-2 and will play the winner of Western Oregon versus Saginaw Valley at 8:30 p.m. tonight. The games are being played at Dr. Pepper Arena in Frisco, Texas.
The championship game will be played Saturday at 2 p.m.

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