Games of the Year

Published 10:56 pm Friday, December 30, 2011

Blooming Prairie's Gabe Kartes celebrates after the Awesome Blossoms held Southland late in the fourth quarter en route to a 20-14 win in the Section 1A championship Friday night in Blooming Prairie. - Herald file photo

1. The shot heard round’ Hayfield

It was starting to look like the Hayfield boys basketball team was not meant to beat Kasson-Mantorville in the 2010-2011 season.

Hayfield's Cole Kruger shoots among a trio of Kasson-Mantorville players during the waning minutes of their Section 2AA, South Division semifinal game this past March in Kasson. Kruger would later hit a game-winning three-pointer as time ran out. - Herald file photo

Hayfield lost two regular season matchups with K-M and it missed four go-ahead field goal attempts and four game-tying free throw attempts before getting the ball back with one last chance in a March 10 playoff contest.

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Hayfield’s Cole Kruger, the third option on the play, took an in-bounds pass with 3.8 seconds left in the game and fired a last ditch three-pointer that found the center of the backboard and banked in as time expired to give the Vikings a 44-42 win in the Section 2AA semifinals.

The Vikings had led by nine at halftime, but they had just six second half points until Kruger connected at the buzzer.

2. Just enough to win it

Austin boys soccer player Jake Hagen-Erickson wasn’t used to scoring slumps this past fall.

But against Pine Island-Zumbrota-Mazeppa, he hadn’t scored in 160 minutes and he and the Packers were facing elimination in overtime.

So maybe it was more than luck when a direct kick from Barush Terrazas deflected off PIZM keeper Brady Holt’s hands and bounced right to Hagen-Erickson, who put a shot through to give Austin a 2-1 overtime win in the Section 1A semfinals Oct. 15.

Austin may have seen its season end in regulation, but keeper Collin Weisert made a diving stop on a 25-yard bullet with 1:20 left in second half.

Earlier, Zach Robinson had scored just his second goal of his career to tie the game at one in the 63rd minute.

3, Blossoms survive a scare

The Blooming Prairie football team had to stop a two-point conversion and convert a fourth down to hold off Lester Prairie-Holy Trinity to earn a trip to the Metrodome in the Class ‘A’ state quarterfinals Nov. 11.

After the Bulldogs scored to pull within 35-34, they decided to go for two with 4:04 left in the game and sophomore quarterback Alex Heigl, who had 229 yards and four TDs on the night, looked to be headed for the go-ahead score when he was stuffed at the one by Gabe Kartes and Weston Fiebiger.

BP ran out the last four minutes of the game on its ensuing possession and the game was iced when Kartes ran for three yards on a fourth and one near midfield.

The game saw both teams combine for nearly 800 yards and four turnovers.

4. A well-timed mistake

Hayfield thought its baseball season was over for about two seconds when Lewiston-Altura botched a two-out grounder in the bottom of the seventh inning of a subsection elimination game June 4.

The Vikings scored the tying run on the play, which loaded the bases and Tyler Nelson took a 3-2 pitch for a walk-off walk that gave the Vikings an 11-10 win.

5. Stoulil’s return

When Austin junior Marcus Stoulil was hit hard bringing back a kick return during football season, it looked like he may not be playing hockey this winter. He was down and out.

But just two months later on Dec. 11, Stoulil returned from a knee injury and he made his first game count with the Packers hockey team as he put in four goals in a 17-minute span to give Austin a 6-5 overtime win over Dodge County.

Stoulil had three game tying goals in the third period, including a slapshot to force overtime with 59 seconds left in regulation. But his game winner wasn’t quite as strong as he tried to make spin move, but lost the puck, which slid between the goalie’s legs just 45 seconds into overtime.

6. No sweat, just get to state

The Awesome Blossoms could’ve been rattled when they faced their first real hurdle of the Section 1A softball tournament against Wabasha-Kellogg June 2, but that wasn’t their style.

Blooming Prairie's Tayla Jones is met by teammates after her solo homerun in the first inning of the Section 1A championship against Wabasha-Kellogg at Todd Park in June. - Herald file photo

BP pitcher Erica Manske hadn’t allowed an earned run all postseason until W-K’s Anna Norgrant put a two-out, two-run homer over the right field fence to put the Falcons up 2-1 in the third inning, but BP bounced back.

Mankse drove in a run to tie the game and Julia Manges knocked in another run to put BP up 4-2 as it went on to earn its second straight trip to the Class ‘A’ state tournament, where it took fourth place.

7. Grudge match

In a game that seems to have been anticipated over the past three years, the Awesome Blossoms showed they can match Southland’s physical style when they edged the Rebels 20-14 in the Section 1A title game Nov. 5.

Gabe Kartes set up the Blossoms’ go-ahead score when he ran a third quarter kick off back 65 yards. He later scored to make it 20-14 with 11:55 left in the game.

The BP defense held off Southland’s rushing attack in the fourth quarter.

8. Packers make a splash

While Austin’s boys basketball team was hoping to be among the state’s elite this season, they probably weren’t feeling like it heading into their showdown with No. 3 ranked Mankato East Dec. 20.

Austin's Zach Wessels gets pumped up after hitting a three-pointer against Mankato East in the first half Tuesday night in Packer Gym. - Herald file photo

The Packers had just blown a four-point lead and lost at Rochester Mayo the week before, and East had just put up over 100 points in a win over Rochester John Marshall.

However, Austin didn’t back down in an 82-73 win as sophomore point guard Zach Wessels played his best game to date as he finished with 29 points on 11-of-20 shooting, while compiling three assists, four steals and five rebounds.

The Packers pulled off the upset win, with their two big men — Tom Aase and Joe Aase — saddled with foul trouble as Nate Schwab picked up the slack with 13 points.

9. A glimpse of the future?

The Lyle-Pacelli baseball team picked up one of its biggest wins in years when it knocked off No. 3 ranked Randolph 7-4 May 20.

The Athletics scored six runs in the bottom of the sixth to take the lead for good and L-P eighth grader Jonah Rohne picked up the win as he allowed just one walk, struck out five and allowed seven hits.

10. Every hit counts

The Austin softball team needed just three hits to pick a up a win over Winona May 5 as pitcher Marie Clennon struck out seven in a shutout win.

Winona had two on with no outs in the fifth, when Clennon struck out two and forced a pop out and the Winhawks had runners on second and third with two outs when Clennon forced a groundout.

The Packers took the lead in the fifth, when Abby Gallaher reached on an error, advanced to second on a bunt, moved to third on a single by Katelyn Joseph and scored on a sacrifice bunt by Lindsey Miller.