Hayfield humbles USC, 61-54

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 8, 2002

WASECA – The Hayfield boys’ basketball team has been humbled – not by their opponents, not by their coaches, and not by their past.

Friday, March 08, 2002

WASECA – The Hayfield boys’ basketball team has been humbled – not by their opponents, not by their coaches, and not by their past. But by a freshman.

Email newsletter signup

Senior point guard Tyler Kramer stood nearly shoulder-high to 6-1 freshman David Johnson – the Vikings’ leading scorer of late – and patted him on the back after Hayfield pulled off a minor upset in Section 2AA East Sub-Section basketball Thursday night.

"We lost everybody from last year and it’s a whole new team," Kramer said. "It’s exciting."

The third-seed Vikings, behind a game-high 22 points from Johnson, knocked off second-seed United South Central, 61-54, at Waseca High School, to advance into Monday’s Sub-Section final match with Waterville-Elysian-Morristown. The top-seed Buccaneers (24-4) have won 18 straight, including their 63-50 defeat of Belle Plaine Thursday. Hayfield (13-12) and WEM will meet Monday night at 8 p.m. at Minnesota State University in Mankato at the Taylor Center.

"Pretty much everyone thought we should have lost this one, but we got it," Hayfield coach Chris Pack said after their victory. "Anything is possible, I guess we proved that."

The Vikings assembled one of their best all-around efforts of the season to score the postseason win, with Johnson -just a freshman – leading the way. But Johnson’s scoring did not come as a surprise to anyone, considering the frosh has scored 20 or more in five of Hayfield’s last nine games. Even Kramer, still the team’s leading scorer by percentage points, knows Johnson has become the go-to guy.

"This guy right here," Kramer said, slapping the taller underclassman on the back. "He came up big."

Johnson scored seven straight points to drive the Vikings back from a five-point deficit early in the fourth quarter. USC got up 41-36 on a three-pointer by Jon Beyer on their first possession of the fourth, but after Bryan Oelkers netted 1-of-2 free-throws, Johnson made his move. The freshman buried a three-pointer, assisted by Oelkers, and scored a pair of jumpers slashing to the basket to lift Hayfield to a 44-43 lead with 5:30 to play – its first since midway through the third quarter.

Johnson 3-3 from the field and 4-4 from the line in the fourth quarter. According to Coach Pack, "He was unbelievable."

Oelkers added a layup on a basket-cut through the lane, and a steal and lay-in by Nick DeMaria sparked the Viking crowd. Hayfield’s lead jumped to 10 on a pair of free-throws by Oelkers, but the Vikings began struggling from the line during the final 1:24.

Johnson, however, did not struggle. He stepped up by going 4-4 from the line as the rest of the team went 2-10 in the last 1:30. USC (12-12) could not cash in on three-point attempts, and Hayfield netted just enough free-throws to get the win. Johnson was 8-9, the rest of the team was 9-21.

"I don’t think anybody expected us to get this far," Johnson said after the game.

Helping hands

The Vikings, the defending Class AA state runner-up, moved to within two wins of the state tournament with an entirely new identity. The top eight players from last year’s team graduated, but four of them helped the current Hayfield team prepare for its game with USC.

Aaron Tempel, Korey Holtan, Matt Harvey and Ryan Kuster contributed their time to role-play as the Vikings’ opposition in practice, a method that apparently worked.

"We’ve scouted them and we knew (Cole Iverson) was the key to their offense," Kramer said of USC’s top-scorer. Iverson, after scoring six points in the first quarter against a straight-up man-to-man, only netted six points through the remainder while being the focus of Hayfield’s box-and-one defense.

Beyer led the Rebels with 16 points, including two of the team’s four three-pointers. USC was 4-19 from three-point range as Hayfield forced the Rebels’ support staff to beat them, and it couldn’t. Iverson was the Rebels’ only other double-digit scorer, finishing with 12.

"We were doing it all week," Johnson said of the box-and-one. "We were not going to get beat by Iverson, we were going to make everyone else beat us."

"We took a chance going box-and-one on Iverson and made the other guys beat us, and thankfully they weren’t able to do it," Coach Pack said.

The same tactic may not work for Hayfield in their Sub-Section finals against WEM. The Bucs were led by 25 points from John Kunelius in their semifinal win over Belle Plaine Thursday night, but his teammates appear more likely to knock down their open looks at the basket.

"They’ll be better shooters than USC, so if we do go box-and-one they’ll be a little tougher to defend," Pack said. "We’re definitely a big underdog."


Hayfield’s big men played a big role in their victory Thursday night. Center Mark Oelkers and power forward Cody Hegna combined for 16 points on 8-8 shooting from the field, with Oelkers grabbing six rebounds to lead the team. Bryan Oelkers, the 6-1 senior swing-man, scored nine points to go along with five rebounds.

"The big guys really did a good job rebounding and scoring some layups," Kramer said. "We lost everybody from last year, and it’s a whole new team. It feels good though."

Hayfield only went one player into its bench, avoiding its lack of interior depth by staying out of foul trouble. The Vikings did not pick up their third team foul of the second half until the 3:34 mark of the fourth quarter. As a result, USC was only 2-4 from the free-throw line.

The Vikings also had their best shooting night, netting 54 percent (21-39) from the field.

Johnson was 6-10 from the floor – including 2-4 from three-point land – including his errorless fourth quarter. He’s averaging 15.7 points per game, with Kramer holding a slim lead at 15.9 points per outing.

Call Ross Thede at 434-2234 or e-mail him at sports@austindailyherald.com.


HAYFIELD (61)-Nick DeMaria 8, Cody Hegna 6, Tyler Kramer 6, Bryan Oelkers 9, Mark Oelkers 10, David Johnson 22.

USC (54)-Ben Wetzell 8, Cole Iverson 12, Jon Beyer 16, Chris Vondracek 7, Mitch Forderer 3, Ryan Treptow 6, Dusty Niebuhr 0, Trent Ulrich 2.

Three-pointers-Hayfield 2-13 (Johnson 2); USC 4-19 (Beyer 2, Vondracek, Forderer). Free-throws-Hayfield 17-30; USC 2-4. Rebounds-Hayfield 27 (M.Oelkers 6, B.Oelkers 5, Kramer 5); USC 32.