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Pipestone flexes muscle, beats JCC in South Section 3AA

The Pipestone Arrows outscored Jackson County Central 78-50 Thursday night in a South Section 3AA semifinal boys basketball game

Pipestone Area Arrows

WINDOM — The Pipestone Area boys basketball team is tall, talented and tough to stop in the lane.

When the Arrows are connecting from 3-point range it’s easy to see why they’re considered one of the state’s top Class AA outfits.

Senior forward Kaden Musch had 21 points and six rebounds, and senior sniper Connor Zephier connected on four 3-pointers en route to 16 points as the Arrows cruised past the Jackson County Central Huskies 78-50 here Thursday night in a South Sub-Section 3AA semifinal game.

The Arrows will face Redwood Valley Saturday at 12:30 p.m. at Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall for the sub-section crown.

Pipestone Area Arrows

“We’ve got five guys who can shoot the basketball, and when we’re hitting on all cylinders they close out against our bigs and leave us open for shots,” said Zephier, who shot 4-for-5 from beyond the 3-point arc.

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Musch, a 6-4 leader, shot 7-for-12 from the floor and 6-5 junior Kellen Johnson added 12 points and eight rebounds as the Arrows improved to 22-5 and earned a spot in Saturday’s South Sub-Section 3AA title game. Sophomore forward Rysley Borman added 10 points for Pipestone Area.

“We’re a post team, but when we get our 3-point game going that’s a hard team to beat right there,” said Musch. “I feel like this was one of our best games of the year. We played two complete halves.”

Jackson County Central (12-16) got 15 points and eight rebounds from Roman Voss, a precocious 6-3 eighth-grader whose older siblings Rudy and Sadie have had all-state hoop careers for the Huskies.

Junior guards Christian Benda and Travis Rogotzke scored 10 and nine points, respectively, for the Huskies. But most of their production came in the second half when the game was out of reach.

Pipestone trailed only once, at 2-0, and took control behind aggressive full court defense early on.

“That’s our motto all season,” said Zephier. “We want to hold teams under 50 points. When we do that, we’re a tough team to beat.”

Pipestone led by 20 points at halftime and was never threatened. The Arrows shot 30-for-53 from the field and out-rebounded JCC 37-25.

“We played well and it started on the defensive end,” said Arrows’ coach Todd Tinklenberg. “We wanted to be aggressive and stop their dribble-drives and spin moves. I thought we did a great job and then we just executed offensively pretty well.”

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It was the third straight victory for Pipestone over JCC. When the offense is coming from both the paint and beyond the arc, the Arrows have the look of a state-tournament team.

“It’s been a good combo for us all year and if it continues we’re going to be pretty tough,” Tinklenberg said.

Said Zephier: “We’ve got a lot of potential. We’ve just got to keep playing and do the little things right. I think we can make a state-tournament run.”

Jackson fell behind early after shooting just 6-for-26 from the floor while committing nine turnovers. The Huskies heated up after halftime, but it was too little, too late.

“They came out more physical than us and shot the ball really well,” said JCC coach Alex Hein. “By the time we started hitting shots it was too late. We couldn’t match their physicality early and we settled offensively and got down big. They’re a good team.”

Jackson might be building something special, though. The Huskies won only three games a year ago and quadrupled that this season. With Rogotzke, Benda and the wunderkind Voss returning, JCC could be strong a year from now.

“Voss is an eighth-grader and that’s crazy,” said the Arrows’ Musch, who matched up most of the time with the Huskies’ budding star. “He’s going to be good the next couple of years.”

Said Hein: “We’re excited about the team we’ve got coming back. We think we can do a lot of damage next year.”

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Jackson County Central 14 50

Pipestone Area 34 78

Scott Mansch, who in a crowded Viking tavern has been known to say “Go Pack Go” at times in complete disregard for his health, can be reached at smansch5rockets@gmail.com
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