STATE BASKETBALL: Wolverines knock off Tigers 73-61 in state quarterfinals

MINNEAPOLIS -- It took 34 years for Butterfield-Odin and 60 years for Mountain Lake, but the Mountain Lake/Butterfield-Odin boys' basketball team advanced to the state tournament after a drought spanning decades.

ML/B-O's Naas and Hempeck
Jocelyn Syrstad/Daily Globe MLBO head coach Shawn Naas hugs guard Andrew Hempeck as time expired in the Wolverines' 73-61 victory over Browerville in the quarterfinals of the Class A boys' basketball tournament at Williams Arena Thursday

MINNEAPOLIS -- It took 34 years for Butterfield-Odin and 60 years for Mountain Lake, but the Mountain Lake/Butterfield-Odin boys' basketball team advanced to the state tournament after a drought spanning decades.

And to make the trip even more exciting, the Wolverines won their quarterfinal game Thursday to advance to the semifinal round today.

ML/B-O defeated the No. 4 seed Browerville 73-61 Thursday afternoon to guarantee a top-4 finish in the state.

The Wolverines will play Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa at noon today to compete for a spot in the Class A championship game.

"What a great game we played," ML/B-O head coach Shawn Naas said. "We're extremely excited. Did you see how many people there are here? Everyone from home is so excited to see us here and to win in front of them and continue this run is just great."


The game was close throughout the first half, with the Wolverines leading by just one point (38-37) at halftime.

But the second half didn't get off to the best start for ML/B-O.

Beau Herrig sunk a layup one minute into the second half to give the Wolverines a three-point (40-37) lead, but the game started to slip away from them shortly after.

Just 20 seconds later Browerville's Seth Christensen made a layup that was the start of a 10-0 run for the Tigers.

By the 14:40 mark of the second half, the Tigers were up 47-40, forcing Naas to call a timeout.

"Coach called a timeout just to keep our composure down and that was huge," Herrig said. "We have to play within ourselves and not let it get to our head. When you let it get to you, you lose your composure and start making sloppy passes and whatever, bad decisions.

"We know how to play from behind with experiences we had earlier this year. So that's how we needed to play that second half and that's what Coach wanted to tell us."

Things started to turn around from there. Over the next seven minutes, the Wolverines went on a 13-6 run to tie the score at 53-all with seven minutes to play in regulation.


And another 10-0 run, this time by ML/B-O extended the Wolverines' lead to 63-53 with four minutes left in the game.

The Wolverines didn't look back after that, closing the game on a 10-9 run to walk away with a 73-61 victory and a trip to the Class A semifinals.

"We called a timeout and the kids responded," Naas said. "I challenged them on defense and challenged them to get the ball inside to Carter [Kirk] and try to get Beau [Herrig] down to block. The kids responded by getting the ball inside.

"All of the sudden we started making some shots and played some good defense and just boxed out and got a lot of rebounds. It really was the difference in the game."

The second half was night-and-day compared to the first defensively for the Wolverines.

In the first half, ML/B-O had 17 rebounds compared to the 27 the team snagged in the second half. And the Wolverines held their opponent to shoot just 29 percent from the field, compared to the 40.5 percent the Tigers shot in the first half.

Offensively, the Wolverines finished the game with a 46.4 field goal percentage and shot 47.1 percent from 3-point range.

ML/B-O was led by Herrig's 30 points -- 19 of which came in the first half -- and 15 rebounds. Cody Penner added 15 points and three rebounds, while Carter Kirk had 13 points and 13 rebounds and four blocks.


"He put us on his back," Naas said of Herrig. "That's what you want your senior leader to do and that's what he did. The kids responded to help him out late. I looked up at one point and he had 20-some points and no one else had more than five. And then all the sudden I looked up the second time and we had a bunch of kids in double-digits. Some of those kids just responded and helped him out. Beau really set the tone and got things started for us though."

The Tigers (27-3) were led by Christensen's 21 points and 10 rebounds. Mitch Heid added 15 points and nine rebounds, while Seth Kellen had 15 points and five rebounds for Browerville.

Now, the Wolverines (25-5) take on the No. 1 seed B-B-E, which is 31-0 on the season.

If ML/B-O wins its semifinal contest, it will be the first time since 1939 that Mountain Lake found itself in the state championship game.

And with an 11-game winning streak under their belts, the Wolverines are feeling pretty confident moving forward. The team hasn't lost since dropping a 66-60 contest against Southwest Star Concept on Feb. 9 and ML/B-O isn't planning on losing another one anytime soon.

"Nobody wants their senior season to come to an end, especially at playoff time," Herrig said. "I don't know, you just have to come out and give it all you've got because there might not be any tomorrows.

"I just want us to come out and play like we did today. Just come out and play strong and then we won't have any regrets. Just play our game and hope for the best outcome."

ML/B-O 38 35 -- 73


BHS 37 24 -- 61

ML/B-O (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) Hempeck 1-1-0-5, Thiessen 2-1-0-8, Penner 1-4-4-15, Herrig 4-5-8-30, Kirk 0-6-1-13, Donkhong 0-1-0-2. Total 8-18-13-73.

BHS (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) Petermeier 1-0-5-8, Heid 1-5-2-15, Kellen 3-3-0-15, Christensen 0-10-1-21, Dreher 0-1-0-2. Total 5-19-8-61.

Daily Globe Sports Reporter Jocelyn Syrstad can be reached at 376-7335.

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