Southland boys win with defense, advance to semifinalsPublished 9:01pm Monday, March 4, 2013
ADAMS — The Southland boys basketball team had to find its rhythm after an eight days without a game, and it once it did, it turned a close game into a blowout against No. 7 seeded New Richland-HEG in Section 2AA South quarterfinals in Adams Monday.
The No. 2 Rebels allowed just four points in the last eight minutes of the game as they cruised to a 57-33 win.
“We hadn’t played in a while, but I felt like once we got a bigger lead it started flowing more,” Southland senior Mike Goergen said. “We got off to a rough start, but that happens and we were rusty.”
The Panthers (6-18 overall) were as close as 24-22 in the second half, but Southland’s defense took over late in the game as it forced 27 turnovers in the win. When the Rebels got on the run, Goergen was there to finish it as he had 21 points in the win.
“We weren’t playing the greatest, but we knew we could come back and take care of business,” said Southland senior Sam Klaehn, who had 10 points, five rebounds and three blocks. “We always try to get the ball to Mike. He’s our best player.”
Southland went just 2-for-10 on 3-pointers in the first half and it led just 24-18 at the break.
NRHEG had tied the game at 11, but Southland used an 11-0 run to get back ahead.
“We earned it tonight. They made us work for it,” Southland head coach Jon Thalberg said. “We can’t always rely on our outside shooting. When we’re on, we’re scary. But when we’re off, we struggle. When we’re not hitting our threes, our entire offense struggles.”
Decker Bendtsen had nine points, six rebounds and three assists for Southland and Luke Anderson had four assists.
Southland (20-7 overall) will now play in the Section 2AA South semifinals, where it will play No. 3Hayfield (18-7 overall) Thursday at 7:30 p.m. in Mankato East High School.
The Rebels beat Hayfield 65-58 in Adams Feb. 21.
Thalberg said his team will be leaning on its eight seniors for its playoff run.
“They’re the guys,” Thlaberg said. “Mike is the man, and Decker and Nick (Schmitz) are right there. Those guys have been leaders since they were fifth and sixth graders. They’ll take us as far as we’re gonna go.”
NRHEG 18 15 — 33
Southland 24 33 — 57
Southland scoring: Mike Goergen, 21; Sam Klaehn, 10; Nick Schmitz, 9; Decker Bendtsen, 9; Chris Wolff, 4; Lee DeHoogh, 2; Alex Ruechel, 2; free throws: 75 percent (6-for-8); rebounds: 29 (Ruechel, 6; Goergen, 6); turnovers: 12