BY DAVID PEDERSEN
The focus of the Rockford and Delano boys and girls basketball teams this week was the section tournament and with the do die mentality.
The girls teams have a couple more games to fine tune play before playoffs begin next week. The boys were in the mix this week when section action got underway Tuesday, after this issue went to press.
Rockford’s boys finished strong, dominating Pierz 85-67 Monday when all hands were back on deck after some players being slowed by injuries.
“We are looking forward to having everything together and able to play our best basketball at playoff time,” said coach Michael Tauber. “Against Pierz we built the lead to 26 before playing all 18 players, including some from the JV. I like our changes heading into playoffs to make some noise.”
Brock Deering led with 23 points and 10 rebounds to lead the charge as usual. Brendon Schumacher scored 17 points, Nick Tully had 15 and Joe Agre added nine. These are the main players back with varsity experience. Deering averages 19 points and 12 rebounds per game,
Rockford opened the 5AA south sub-section tournament as the No. 6 seed playing at No. 3 Breck Tuesday. The second round would be at 3 p.m. Saturday, March 1 at St. Michael-Albertville. The sub-section title game is 6 pm. Tuesday, Feb. 4 at STMA. The top seeds are Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted, Watertown-Mayer, Breck, Brooklyn Center and Providence Academy.
Delano’s boys have struggled on offensive with the loss of Toby Hanson to injury. The senior was averaging 20 points per game before being lost for the season.
The No. 4 seed Tigers entered defense of the Section 5 3A title Tuesday at home against No. 5 Monticello. The winner will likely take on No. 1 Big Lake, 10 a.m. Saturday, March 1 at St. Cloud State. The title game is 7 p.m. March 6 in St. Cloud. Orono is the No. 2 seed.
Last week the Tigers lost to Glencoe-Silver Lake 62-54 and Holy Family Catholic 47-33 to finish the regular season at 15-11.
Delano trained GSL 20-6 before cutting the lead to 26-25 at the half. Senior Damon Longstreet led with 18 points and 13 rebounds. Sean Campbell had 16 points and three steals. Matt Kreklow added 13 points, five rebounds, four assists and three blocks. Seth Norling contributed nine assists.
Holy Family is ranked second or third in the state in Class 3A and is big and very talented, notes coach Terry Techam.
Once again Delano got down early, 27-7, but again closed the first half on a nice run to make the halftime score 29-17. The lead got down to 10 but no more. Longstreet led with 10 points and 14 rebounds.
In girls basketball, Delano won two games to be 16-7 overall. The Tigers joined the battle for second in the conference with a 54-38 win over Holy Family Catholic as the teams were part of a four-way tie for second.
Alex Wittinger netted 18 points with 13 rebounds and four steals. Brooke Lemke added 13 points, three steals and three assists.
“The girls are learning to be more patient on offense, which is helping our defense,” said coach Amy Gould. “Our 32 rebounds made a big difference.”
Delano trailed Glencoe-Silver Lake by 16 points with four minutes to go before storming back to win 55-54. Gould said Wittinger “went nuts on defense” and scored 18 points in the second half after getting three in the first.
“We could not make any kind of a shot in the first half,” said Gould. “Thankfully, our girls woke up and put a gritty run together at the end. We scored 19 points in the first half and 36 in the second.”
Wittinger had 21 points, seven rebounds, three steals and three blocks. Bria Barfnecht scored 12 points with six rebounds and four assists. Lemke added eight points, five steals, four rebounds and three steals as the point guard.
The Tigers end the regular season at home Friday, Feb. 28 against Orono, who is undefeated at 11-0 on league play and 15-6 overall If as expected Orono is the top section seed and Delano third, the teams could meet again in the second round next week.
Rockford split two recent games, losing 59-54 to Eden Valley-Watkins last week and dominating Minneapolis Henry 66-21 Monday when 15 players scored points. The team is 9-13 on the season, 7-5 in league play.
Brianna Calder grabbed 19 rebounds to go with 10 points and three steals against EVW. Abby Botten scored 10 points with four assists. Allison McNeal had 10 points and sister Caitlin added nine points.
Against Henry, scoring leaders were Sam Bagaason 11, Jordan Weeding 9, Calder 8 and Allison McNeal 8.
The Rockets end the regular season at home Friday, Feb. 28 against Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa.