Wildcats use their defense to outlast Awesome Blossoms in Section 1A final

Published 9:25 pm Thursday, March 14, 2024

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ROCHESTER – The top-seeded Awesome Blossoms ran into a disciplined, defensive-minded Goodhue team, and they ran out of time to get things going as they lost 47-44 in the Section 1A title game in Mayo Civic Center Auditorium Thursday.

BP had one last chance to tie the game with 10 seconds left, but Gabe Hein’s desperation heave missed as time expired. BP struggled from the outside all night as it connected on just one three-pointer in the loss.

Junior Brady Kittelson gave the Blossoms 17 points, seven rebounds and five steals and Gabe Hein finished with seven points, eight rebounds, three blocks and three assists.

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We didn’t execute well tonight, we didn’t rebound well and we couldn’t make a shot,” Gabe Hein said. “That’s what it comes down to. It sucks, but sometimes you’re gonna have a bad game. They are a really good team and we knew that coming in. They deserve it as much as we did. Their defense is really strong and it makes it really hard to try to run plays. They knew every set we were trying to get into.”

Freshman Gabe Staloch scored to bring BP within 47-44 with 55 seconds left and Kittelson came up with a steal with 35 seconds left. However, Zack Hein’s wing three-pointer came up short. No. 6 seeded Goodhue’s Jed Ryan missed the front end of a one-and-one, giving BP its last chance. 

This one hurts,” BP head coach Cam Rutledge said. “We thought we were in a pretty good spot to make a run and get to the state tournament and losing by three really hurts. You’ve got to give credit to Goodhue. They had two kids who hit two really big shots.”

Points were at a premium throughout the night and Goodhue came up with a gigantic shot when Luke Roschen answered a game tying three by Gabe Staloch with a pull-up, go-ahead three that made it 45-42 Goodhue with 1:53 left.

Before Staloch’s three, Goodhue’s Jed Ryan hit a baseline three that made it 42-39 Wildcats.

BP (28-3 overall) led 29-22 early in the second half, but the Wildcats (18-13 overall) came storming back as they took a 33-31 lead on a three-pointer by Luke Roschen, who scored 16 points, with 11:29 left in the game.

After finding themselves in an early six-point hole, the Awesome Blossoms brought their defense to another level as they held the Wildcats scoreless for the last five and half minutes of the first half and the first three minutes of the second half  to turn in a 13-0 run to go up 29-22. 

Zack Hein gave BP an 11-8 lead when he converted a tough finish that turned into a three-point play on a free throw, but he picked up his second foul with 9:53 left in the first half.

With Zack sidelined, the Wildcats rallied to take a 22-16 lead before he re-entered the game with 5:34 left in the half.

With Zack back on the floor, BP scored the last nine points of the half as the Awesome Blossoms took a 24-22 lead on a three-point play by Cooper Cooke with 35 seconds left. Zack Hein added a free throw to make it 25-22 with 6.6 seconds left.

While they really wanted to get BP to its first state tournament since 1966, the Awesome Blossom seniors will have to settle on having one of the best seasons in school history. Gabe Hein is hoping the team serves as inspiration to the younger Blossoms.

We put in a lot of work in the off-season and we hope those younger guys keep that work up,” he said. “We built a new tradition around Blooming basketball and hopefully they can get it back to where it should be.”

Goodhue 22 25  –  47

BP 25 19  –  44

BP scoring: Brady Kittelson, 17; Gabe Staloch, 7; Gabe Hein, 7; Cooper Cooke, 7; Zack Hein, 4; Kolby Vigeland, 2