Boys basketball: Blossoms are all for onePublished 8:10pm Tuesday, March 12, 2013
BLOOMING PRAIRE — The Awesome Blossoms are no strangers to playing in state tournaments.counter
After all, Blooming Prairie’s football team has gone to state in two of the past four years. However, going to the state basketball tournament is something completely different. BP hasn’t played in a state qualifying game since 1967, but that will change this Thursday when the Blossoms take on Rushford-Peterson in the Section 1A title game in Mayo Civic Center at 8 p.m.
The winner of that game will qualify for the Class ‘A’ state tournament.
“We don’t want to think about football too much right now,” BP senior point guard Weston Fiebiger said. “We’ve gotten a lot better this year and our defense has been great.”
BP (18-9 overall) probably wasn’t thinking about state earlier this year when it lost six of its first ten games to open the season. When the Blossoms fell behind by 15 points at halftime to Faribault Bethlehem Academy, which endeed BP’s football season this year, things took a turn for the better.
BP battled back to beat FBA 72-66 in double overtime and the Blossoms finished the season with three wins over their rivals to the north, including a 44-37 win in Saturday’s Section 1A West title game.
Since their slow start BP has gone 14-3 overall.
“That FBA game was a big turning point in our season and we’ve been on a roll since then,” BP head coach John Bruns said. “I really think our record is deceiving and we’re playing better than that now.”
Bruns said he wasn’t surprised by his team’s slow start as BP had almost an entirely different roster from the previous year that saw them drop the Subsetion title game to FBA.
The team’s top scorers, senior forward Michael Thomas and sophomore center John Rumpza, were back. But a lot of other new faces were inserted into the lineup — including freshman Anthony Nelson.
Nelson enjoyed watching last year’s team make its postseason run and he said he’s enjoying his time on this year’s team.
“We haven’t been that good in basketball lately,” Nelson said. “But we have a lot of good players this year and I think we can go further.”
Rumpza said players like Nelson, along with Jimmy Mans, Collin Yankoviak and Fiebiger have made the team succesfull.
“(Michael and I) don’t have to worry about scoring as much and we don’t have to be so careful about fouling because it’s okay if one of us comes out of the game for a little bit,” Rumpza said.
Thomas said that Nelson has grown throughout the season and he’s emerged as a capable scoring option.
“He’s really benefitted us,” Thomas said. “At the beginning of the season he was kind of shy and he stayed away from the ball. Now he’s taking it to the hoop and he’s doing what he does best and shooting it.”
Rumpza and Thomas average 40 points per game between them, but the Blossoms have found that they all need to chip in a little to win games. BP has won eight of its last nine games as it prepares for its showdown with the No. 7 ranked Trojans (25-3 overall).
“We do our best when everybody scores,” Fiebiger said. “It’s nice to have John and Michael score too, but when everybody scores seven to ten points, I feel like we’re at our best.”
RP has won 11 games in a row and every one of those wins were by at least 10 points. The Trojans like to shoot 3-pointers and play full court pressure defense.
“They press all game and they shoot the ball very well,” Bruns said. “They’ve got six guys that average between seven and 11 points per game and that makes it tough to matchup with them. They can all shoot from the outside and they can all handle the ball.”
Bruns said its important for his team to come into the game loose and not worry about things it can’t control.
“Most people from the outside look at us as the underdogs and we don’t have much to lose right now,” he said. “It doesn’t do any good to get all nervous because then you don’t play well.”
The last time a BP boys basketball team went to state was in 1966.