The Southland Rebels, the No. 7 seed in the Section 1A boys basketball tournament were in action in the quarterfinals Wednesday evening at the Mayo Civic Center Auditorium against the No. 2 seeded Rushford/Peterson Trojans, and though the Rebels battled for the entire game, 1,000+ point scorer Justin Ruberg tallied 20 points and guard Malachi Bunke drilled four 3-pointers on his way to 18 points to help lead the Trojans past the Rebels 53-42.
Southland took a 2-0 lead in the opening moments of the game, but the Trojans quickly moved in front and led 14-10 when the Rebels went on a 5-0 run to take a 15-14 lead. Rushford/Peterson countered with a 10-0 run of their own to take the lead back for good, as it would turn out, at 24-15, and they went into the locker room with a 24-20 lead at the end of the first half.
The Trojans pushed their lead to 12 early in the second half at 35-23 when Southland countered with a 6-0 run to cut the lead to 35-31 with 10:34 left. Rushford/Peterson, though, a talented and disciplined squad used those two traits to answer the Rebels momentum as they reeled off an 11-2 run to take a 46-33 lead with under five minutes left, and they were able to hold off any rallies by the Rebels the rest of the way for the win.
Eli Wolff, who erupted for 39 points in Southland’s opening round win at home over Lanesboro led the Rebels in scoring again Wednesday night with 19 points, fellow senior Harrison Hanna tallied nine points, Andrew Timm swished a pair of 3’s for six points, Gavin Nelson and Brendan Kennedy each chipped in three points and Nick Edland scored two points for Southland, who ended a great season with a record of 18-7.
In the second game you heard Wednesday evening from the Rochester Civic Center Auditorium on KAUS, the No. 6 seeded Lyle/Pacelli Athletics locked horns with a big, tough and disciplined Goodhue Wildcat squad, the No. 3 seed out of the tough Hiawatha Valley League. Like Rushford/Peterson, the Wildcats also featured a big, 1,000+ point scorer in the personage of senior Dayne Wojcik, and he scored 14 points and 6’7″ junior guard Will Opsahl added 12 points as Goodhue worked their way in front early and never gave up the lead from there in a 47-39 victory.
Lyle/Pacelli took a 2-0 lead right out of the gate with a basked from junior forward Buay Koak, but Goodhue quickly countered and took an 8-2 lead and a lead, unfortunatley for the Athletics, that they would not relinquish. LP rallied back to cut the lead to 12-10 with 7:07 left in the first half, and trimmed the lead to one at 14-13 with 5:31 left before the Wildcats countered with a 10-2 run of their own to take a 24-15 lead with 1:17 to go in the half, and they went into the locker room with a 26-18 lead at the end of the first half.
Goodhue pushed their lead to nine at 30-21 in the opening stages of the second half, but Lyle/Pacelli continued to battle back and used a 7-0 run to trim the Wildcat lead to 30-28 with 11:04 left. A 3-pointer from junior guard Jake Truckenmiller cut the lead to one at 32-31 with 9:11 left, but Goodhue refused to give up the lead and pushed their lead back to six at 40-34 with under 5:30 to go. A 3-pointer from Koak cut the deficit to three at 40-37 with 2:29 left, but the Wildcats got a layup from reserve guard Tyson Christenson soon thereafter and went 7 for 11 from the free throw line in the second half to earn the win.
Koak wound up with 19 points, 5 rebounds, one assist, two steals and six blocked shots for the Athletics, while Truckenmiller drained three 3-pointers and wound up with 14 points, four rebounds, two assists and one steal and Mac Nelson drained a pair of 3’s in the second half for six points, along with three assists and three rebounds for Lyle/Pacelli, who wrap up a fantastic season at 23-5 and as the championship of the West Division of the Southeast Conference.
Rushford/Peterson and Goodhue will now meet in the Section 1A semi-finals back at the Mayo Civic Center Auditorium Saturday night at 6:30 p.m., with Hayfield and Spring Grove meeting in the other 1A semi-final at 4:00 p.m. Saturday afternoon. The Section 1A final will be played at the Mayo Civic Center Arena on Thursday, March 17th at 6:00 p.m.