Vikings upset No. 3 ranked Maple River in subsection title gamePublished 10:43pm Monday, March 11, 2013
MANKATO — The third time was definitely the charm for the Hayfield boys basketball team.
After coming up short in the Section 2AA South title game two years in a row, the Vikings finally came out on top when they upset No. 3 ranked Maple River 57-55 in the Taylor Center in Mankato Monday.
“I feel like we finally played good here,” said Hayfield senior Brady Kramer, who has been a starter for the past three seasons. “The last two years, we didn’t play well here.”
The win puts Hayfield in its first Section 2AA title game since 2004. The Vikings will now play No. 4 ranked St. Peter (25-3 overall) with a trip to the state tournament on the line Friday at 8 p.m. in the Taylor Center.
Hayfield (21-7 overall) couldn’t begin to celebrate Monday’s win until the final buzzer as the Eagles (24-5 overall) had two golden chances to take the lead in the last minute. Maple River’s Jaron Denn missed an open 3-pointer from the wing with 20 seconds left and after an offensive rebound, Jonah Breiter missed another good look from the wing with four seconds left to seal Hayfield’s win.
“We were talking about who was guarding that kid that when we got in the locker room and no one confessed,” said Hayfield senior guard Trevor Anderson. “It doesn’t matter now.”
Anderson hit the biggest shot of the night for the Vikings, who had led by as many as 11 in the first half, but trailed 51-47 with 7:08 left in the game. After Cole Kruger drained a 3-pointer to make it 51-50, Anderson drilled a contested 3-pointer from the baseline to put Hayfield up 53-51 with 5:31 left in the game.
“Trevor’s been playing phenomenal this postseason,” said Kruger, who had 19 points, four assists and four rebounds. “He made that one right by our bench and I went crazy.”
The Vikings took a 55-51 lead on a lay-up by Brady Stevens, but the Eagles scored four straight points to tie the game with 1:54 left.
Kramer was able to draw a foul on a drive with 1:31 left and he made the second free throw after missing the first one to give Hayfield the lead for good.“The background throws you off so much here and I thought the first one was gonna air ball,” Kramer said. “After that I dialed it in and made the second one thankfully.”
The attack was a rare one for Kramer as he was mostly looking to spread the ball out to his teammates. The 1,000 point scorer finished the game with six points and seven assists.
“They took away Brady’s drive and they were collapsing on him,” Hayfield head coach Chris Pack said. “He did a good job of staying within himself and being a distributor. I was really proud of him.”
Kruger added another free throw on Hayfield’s next possession to make it 57-55.
The Vikings looked to be in control as they drilled six 3-pointers in the first half.
Hayfield took a 36-25 lead when Anderson, who scored 12 points, hit a 3-pointer, but the Eagles scored the last four points of the second half and they opened the first half on an 4-0 spurt to get right back in the game. The Eagles took their first lead when Denn hit a 3-pointer to make it 46-43 with 11:18 left in the game.
While it was disheartening to give up the lead, the Vikings never lost hope.
“I actually never thought that it could be my last game during the game,” Anderson said. “Before the game I was thinking about it. But I knew we had Cole, Brady Kramer and Brady Stevens who have all started for three years. I knew we weren’t shell shocked and we could get right back in it.”
For Kruger, the win was as big a one he’s ever been in. After going 4-for-16 in each of his last two previous Section 2AA South title games, Kruger didn’t have too much trouble finding his offense against the Eagles.
“The first two years nobody could make a shot from anywhere,” Kruger said. “This year it seemed like every shot we put up was going in.”
Pack said Kruger did exactly what the team needed him to.
“We put a lot of weight on his back,” Pack said. “He’s our guy and he hit some big shots when we needed them. Big players step up in big games and he did that tonight.”
Hayfield 36 21 — 57
MR 29 26 — 55
Hayfield scoring: Cole Kruger, 19; Trevor Anderson, 12; Jeremy Stuart, 7; Brady Kramer, 6; Drew Streightiff, 6; Brady Stevens, 5; Merrick Ducharme, 1; free throws: 47 percent (8-for-17); rebounds: 25 (Stuart, 9); turnovers: 9