Freshman delivers clutch shots for Blossoms in quarterfinal win over Kenyon-Wanamingo

Published 10:57 pm Monday, March 4, 2024

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ROCHESTER – Blooming Prairie freshman Gabe Staloch’s eyes may have been a little bigger under the bright lights of Mayo Civic Center Auditorium, but he made some huge shots to compliment his older teammates as the top-seeded Awesome Blossoms rallied in the second half to beat No. 8 Kenyon-Wanamingo 72-47 Monday.

BP trailed 33-32 at the half, but it turned things around quickly in the second half. After Gabe Hein, who had 23 points and 16 rebounds, and Zack Hein, who scored 22 points, set the tone inside, Staloch found his shot.

The freshman guard hit a three to put BP up 43-38 and he added another clutch triple to put BP up 50-43 with 9:06 left.

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“The nerves were pretty high early on, but our coach had a really good pregame talk and I settled in and played my game. It was really fun,” Staloch, who finished with nine points, three assists and four rebounds, said. “Our older guys are great mentors and when I’m down, they always tell me how good I am and to keep going at it.”

KW (16-12 overall) hung around early in the game with its outside shot, but the Knights scored just 14 points in the second half as BP stayed the course.

“They just had some guys hit shots that we didn’t expect to hit shots in the beginning,” Gabe Hein said. “We knew they couldn’t keep it up all night, so we just stayed in the same sets. In the second half those guys stopped making shots and we came out and ran.”

BP (26-2 overall) trailed 15-12 early on and it used a 7-0 run to take a 19-15 lead. From that point on, BP led for most of the night apart from the late first half burst that KW made to take a brief halftime lead.

“I give our guys credit,” BP head coach Cam Rutledge said. “Our guys stuck with our game plan, even when some of their guys came out and hit shots. It was great execution by our guys. They got down, but they never gave up.”

BP will now play No. 5 seeded Kingsland in Mayo Civic Center Auditorium in the Section 1A semifinals at 4 p.m. Saturday.

Kenyon-Wanamingo 33  14  –  47

Blooming Prairie 32  40  –  72

BP scoring: Gabe Hein, 23; Zack Hein, 22; Brady Kittelson, 16; Gabe Staloch, 9; Cooper Cooke, 2