Vikings fall short in state quarterfinals

Published 12:17 am Thursday, March 21, 2013

MINNEAPOLIS — The Vikings staged a late comeback, but they ran out of time as they lost to Esko 60-54 in the Class ‘AA’ state boys basketball quarterfinals at Williams Arena Wednesday.

Hayfield used a 7-0 run to tie the game at 46-46 with 6:06 left in the game, but the Eskomos (27-4 overall) scored the next four points and they never trailed again.

“We knew we could hang with them the whole game,” said Hayfield senior Cole Kruger, who finished with 28 points, six rebounds and three steals. “It was just their night.”

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Hayfield had two chances to take the lead on 3-pointers after they fell behind 48-46, but Kruger and Brady Kramer each missed. The Vikings had two chances to get within two after they trailed 50-46, but Trevor Anderson had a breakaway lay-up rejected and the Vikings were called for an illegal screen with 1:23 left.

Hayfield head coach Chris Pack was proud of how his team came back after trailing for much of the night.

“That’s kind of how this team has been all year. They’ve fought back,” Pack said. “It looked like we were dead to the rights and we gave ourselves a shot.”

The Vikings used a 7-0 run in the first half to jump out to a 20-17 lead after Kruger hit a 3-pointer with 8:32 left. However, Esko’s Kory Deadrick was nearly unguardable in the first half as he hit 5-of-7 from down town and scored 25 of his 30 points in the first frame.

“He’s a good player and he hit tough shots. You’ve got to hand it to him,” Pack said.

Esko hit 36 percent of their 3-pointers on the night, while Hayfield missed 17 of their 20 attempts from beyond the arc.

Hayfield will graduate six seniors, including three-year starters Brady Stevens and Brady Kramer.

“I told them one day you’re going to look back and be glad that you got to play your last game in the state tournament but it’s tough,” Pack said.

Kruger said the community got behind the team all year and there were times the squad would have people buy them dinner when they were out to eat together.

“The community supported us immensely this year and that was great,” Kruger said.

Esko 35 25 — 60

Hayfield 27 27 — 54

Hayfield scoring: Cole Kruger, 28; Jeremy Stuart, 13; Brady Stevens, 4; Brady Kramer, 4; Trevor Anderson, 3; Merrick Ducharme, 2; field goals: 42 percent (20-for-48); three-pointers: 15 percent (3-for-20); free throws: 73 percent (11-for-15); rebounds: 30 (Kramer, 7); turnovers: 10