Boys basketball: Vikings are ready for a showdown

Published 8:45pm Wednesday, March 13, 2013

HAYFIELD — The Vikings may look like the underdog as they prepares for the Section 2AA boys basketball title game, but they don’t feel like one.

No. 3 seeded Hayfield (21-7 overall) will play top-seeded and fourth ranked St. Peter (25-3 overall) for a trip to state at the Taylor Center in Mankato Friday at 8 p.m.

The Vikings knocked off No. 3 ranked Maple River 57-55 to get to their first section title game since 2004 and they’re now trying to get to their first state tournament since 2001.

“It’s not a case where we have to play the perfect game and they have to have a bad game,” Hayfield head coach Chris Pack said. “I think we’re relatively even and whoever plays a more complete game will advance.”

St. Peter is similar to Maple River, but not exactly the same. The Eagles beat St. Peter 62-61 in overtime Feb. 21, but Maple River relies more on the outside shot.

St. Peter runs much of its offense through their 6-7 post player Peter Kruize, who will play college basketball at Gustavus next season.

“He’s got such good hands and he moves his feet well,” Pack said. “We’re focusing on keeping him under wraps and doubling him.”

Hayfield has some experience containing big men this season as it held Rochester Lourdes center Jacob Schaeffer, who is 6-7, to 11 points in a

52-44 win Jan. 18.

Pack said Kruize is a little more skilled than Schaeffer, but the past success can only help his team.

“We did a pretty good job against Schaeffer and that should give us some confidence,” Pack said.

Hayfield isn’t coming into the game with fear, but it isn’t overconfident either. Pack has reminded his team of how they played St. Peter close in the regular season last year and how important Friday’s game is.

“We played them close last year when they had more talent,” Pack said. “We can’t be content with Monday’s win. We talked all year about March and the opportunity is certainly there.”

The Vikings will have plenty of experience on their side as Cole Kruger, Brady Kramer and Brady Stevens are three-year starters and Jeremy Stuart and Trevor Anderson have stepped up their games in the postseason.

“I think it showed Monday night,” Pack said. “Our guys have been in big games and they weren’t rattled when Maple River took the lead. If we do get down on Friday, our guys won’t panic.”

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