Journal-Press Internet Sports & School - March 22, 2018
SECTION 8AAAA BOYS BASKETBALL
Bison's run ends against Maple Grove
Defense helps Crimson defend section title
By Rob LaPlante
Judging by the numbers, last Thursday's neutral site for the Section 8-4A boys' basketball championship game at Monticello High School appeared to be an unofficial home game for sixth-seeded Buffalo.
With the Bison's crowd clearly outnumbering top-seeded Maple Grove, the only numbers that mattered most that night for the Crimson were the final digits on the scoreboard.
Led by junior point guard Jared Rainey's 21 points, Maple Grove shook off a pro-Bison cheering section with a stifling defensive effort that held the Bison to 16 points below their season average (68.3 points per game) in a 66-52 Crimson victory.
Bison sophomore guard Matt Willert summed up the defeat in two words.
"It sucks," he said. "But the game was fun. Obviously, we want to win that, but the atmosphere was great."
Starting with the BHS Band and a packed student section dressed in a sea of black shirts, Buffalo was energized early when sophomore forward Aidan Bouman won the opening tip and sophomore guard Brandon Maatz shortly followed with a three pointer.
It was the first of four key baskets by Maatz, who finished with 12 points – all coming from three-point territory.
Maatz's three gave Buffalo a 16-13 lead midway through the first half, but Maple Grove's ability to keep Buffalo a perimeter team throughout led to some low percentage shots.
Sophomore Matt Willert scored 15 first-half points, including a rainbow three pointer in front of Crimson Head Coach Nick Schroeder just seconds prior to the halftime buzzer. Prior to that, the Crimson had gone on a 11-0 run to help build a 29-25 halftime advantage.
Despite the close score, both head coaches went into the second half wanting more.
"They were definitely a lot more physical than we were inside," said Buffalo Head Coach Josh Ortmann. "We did a poor job finishing at the rim in general. They took advantage of some defensive opportunities that led into transition, especially in the first half."
"We talked in the locker room at halftime that we needed to be aggressive to the lane," Schroeder said. "Buffalo was doing such a great job of keeping us out, especially with our post feeds. So we decided to spread it out a little more and attack with the dribble. Once we started to do that, we were able to separate a little bit."
Rainey led the Crimson's attack by scoring six of his 10 points in the second half from three-point territory. Nate Adams' rebound and put-back opened up a 40-31 Crimson lead.
Buffalo closed the gap down to four with 10:31 left. Buffalo received a scare when Willert limped out of the game, but he missed less than a minute before re-entering.
The turning point of the contest came late in the second half when Maatz was called for a blocking foul, resulting in a successful basket and free throw by Maple Grove's Jordan Stensland. On the next possession, Maatz was called for charging, his fifth foul of the game with 6:28 left to play.
"I haven't fouled out all year," said a frustrated Maatz afterwards. "I got called on two charges this game. When I drew that blocking foul, I should have been smarter when I had four fouls. That's my bad. I can't do that in a game like this."
Ortmann was noticeably upset about the questionable calls against Maatz, but failed to accuse the referees for changing any momentum.
With frustration sinking in, the game started to slip when Buffalo was called for a personal foul and technical foul that turned a 9-point deficit into a 56-43 disadvantage with 6:06 remaining.
"It's not if adversity happens, it's when adversity happens, how are you going to respond?" Ortmann said. "There were times we responded well tonight and times we responded pretty uncharacteristically. In a section final basketball game, if you don't respond the right way, good teams are going to capitalize on it, and they capitalized on it."
Willert's continued ability to hit contested jump shots allowed Buffalo to stay close. But the Crimson pulled away by hitting free throws down the stretch.
Even though he felt his team did a great job defending Willert, Buffalo's young star still ended with a game-high 26 points. Nobody was more impressed with Willert and the Bison than Schroeder.
"Credit to Buffalo, man, they have some great players," Schroeder said.
"Willert is really hard to guard. He's a special kid and he's going to be a thorn in a lot of people's side for the next couple years."
While the scoreboard numbers favored the Crimson, the numbers in the stands didn't go unnoticed from Buffalo players and coaches.
"It was awesome," Maatz said. "We have some of the best fans. They came out and made it awesome supporting us."
"That's the best part of coaching in Buffalo – we truly have a community feel," Ortmann said. "In Buffalo, we win or lose with our kids. You see so many schools around the state, including schools close by us that win or lose with kids transferring in and out. All of our guys played fourth and fifth grade traveling basketball for us. Every single one of our kids were wearing a youth uniform when they were coming through."
Something to prove
Even though it was a six versus one matchup, both teams in last Thursday's section finals felt it had something to prove.
Losers of three of their final five regular season games, the Bison surprised outsiders with their post-season run.
With four sophomore starters, the Bison posted a 13-13 record during the regular season. Buffalo never lost or won more than three games in a row, but after a 1-6 start, the Bison gained momentum after posting two wins in late December hosting its own invitational.
The Bison (15-14) return five of their top seven players, including all four sophomores: Dahl, Willert, Maatz, and Bouman.
"We lose three important guys, and we'll miss them like crazy, but we have a lot of guys coming back," Willert said. "This is just the beginning for us young guys."
Winners of three straight section titles, this year's Crimson squad also felt they had something to prove.
With the loss of all five of last year's senior starters, including Division-I talents Tywohn Pickford and Brad Davison, most of Maple Grove's starting five this year had limited experience.
"We graduated 10 seniors, so none of these guys played varsity basketball last year," Schroeder said. "What people don't understand, just about all these guys that played competed every single day in practice against those guys from last season – they got better behind the scenes. People didn't give them a lot of respect early, but they didn't buy into that. They bought into our program and our team. We don't score a ton, but we bought into defense, and that's been our calling card."
Rainey is one of two juniors (Adams) who played limited minutes a year ago as sophomores. Both are this year's leading scorers.
"It's beyond special," Rainey said. "A lot of people didn't see us being in this position today. We came out with the mentality to prove them all wrong. Go from the jump and take one game at a time."
Maple Grove received the sixth seed and faced third-seeded Lakeville North in the Class 4A state quarterfinals played at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, March 21 at Target Center in Minneapolis.
"If they go all the way, good for them, but preferably no," said Willert, on whether or not he will root for the team that just beat them. "We feel like we should be there. We just couldn't pull it out."
Section 8-4A Finals
Maple Grove 66,
(Thursday, March 15 at Monticello)
Knights27 32 - 59
Crimson32 39 - 71
Bison (52) -- Matt Willert 26 (4 rebounds, 2 blocks); Brandon Maatz 12 (6 rebounds); Tony Dahl 9 (7 rebounds); Aidan Bouman 4 (7 rebounds); Trevor Dalbec 1; Jake Anderson 0 (2 assists).
Crimson (71) -- Jared Rainey 21 (5 rebounds); Nate Adams 15 (3 steals); Jordan Stensland 13; Alex Battist 9 (13 rebounds, 2 blocks); Mac Wilner 5 (5 rebounds); Kyle Dreyer 3; Zach Bradbury 0.
SECTION 5AAA BOYS BASKETBALL
Tigers roar into state
Delano knocks off Willmar in 5AAA finals
By Rob LaPlante
If you can't beat them – join them.
After suffering season-ending losses to DeLaSalle the past two years playing in Section 6AAA, the Delano boys' basketball team will now be joining the six-time defending Class AAA state champions at this year's state meet.
Delano's move this past season from Section 6 to Section 5 opened the door for the Tigers to eliminate some recent hurdles.
Standing in their way was top-seed Willmar, who entered last Thursday's section final against Delano having lost only twice in 28 previous games.
Delano (18-11) would hand the Cardinals their third loss thanks to a 75-54 blowout victory in last Thursday's championship game at Halenbeck Hall in St. Cloud.
Nobody was more surprised by the lopsided win than Delano Head Coach Terry Techam, who watched his Tigers score the game's first eight points.
"Definitely a bit of a surprise," Techam said. "Willmar is a great team. There was a reason they finished the regular season 26-2."
While Willmar possesses a deep lineup, they don't possess the all-around skills that Delano senior guard Calvin Wishart possesses.
Wishart scored 21 of his 32 points in a first half the Tigers led 41-24 at the break.
The 32 points ended a string of two straight 40-point efforts for Wishart. He likely would have made it three straight games if not for a bigger lead. Instead, Wishart and his teammates played more of a conservative second half and 6-foor-8 center Keegan O'Neill responded with his best game of the section tourney with 21 points and six rebounds.
Junior Derek Techam added 12. Noah Slagter led the Cardinals with 16 points.
The victory marks Delano's third-ever trip to the state tournament and first since 2013.
They opened play with a 4 p.m. showdown against third-seeded Mankato East (24-5) on Wednesday, March 21 at Williams Arena in Minneapolis. Delano is one of three unseeded teams in Class AAA. Results of this game and the entire tournament will be in next week's Journal-Press.
DeLaSalle (24-4) received the top seed, as they seek a seventh straight state title.
Regardless of this year's state outcome, Delano players and coaches were relieved to finally make it back to state, particularly so the state can see one of the state's most prolific scorers.
"It should be fun. Calvin is having a great year and had an exceptional section tournament," Coach Techam said. "It is a great feeling for the whole team to see all of their hard work be rewarded with a trip to the state tournament."
Wishart and Monticello senior Matt Todd were both selected for this year's Star Tribune All-Metro Teams.
Wishart, who ranks third in the state with 31.1 points per game (PPG), was named to the Second Team. Todd, who ranks fourth in the state at 29.0 PPG, was Third Team.
Both players finished their careers well over 2,000 career points. Wishart and the Tigers ended Todd and the Magic's season in the section semifinals. Wishart scored a career-high 48 points that game.
Section 5-3A Finals
Delano 80, Willmar
(Thursday, March 15 at St. Cloud)
Tigers41 34 - 75
Cardinals24 30 - 54
Tigers (75) -- Calvin Wishart 32 (7 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals); Keegan O'Neill 21 (6 rebounds); Derek Techam 12; Trey Longstreet 8; Max Otto 2.
Cardinals (54) -- Noah Slagter 16; Drey Dirksen 14; Ty Roelofs 8; Jake Evans 4; Noah Getz 4; Adam Roux 3; Donald Jurek 2; Cameron Murphy 2; Ryan Slette 1.
TRACK & FIELD SEASON PREVIEW
Buffalo fields strong group of runners
Bison looking for long-distance success; state medalists return
By Rob LaPlante
Head coach Scott Palmer is hoping last fall's success in cross country trickles down to this spring's track and field season.
With all of last year's varsity runners from the section championship cross country team competing in track and field, Palmer knows he has something special when it comes to this year's distance events, which is coached by cross country head coach Dave Knutsen.
"Distance for sure is a strength – on both squads," Palmer said.
Leading the distance runners is all-state cross country runner Isaac Basten, who took home two medals a year ago in last year's state track meet.
Basten placed seventh in the 3,200-meter run and teamed with departed seniors Nick Hanson, Tyler Johnson, and Carter Patnode for ninth place in the 4x400 relay.
Hanson is the only member from last year's 4x800 relay that placed 10th at state. Senior captain Braden Benson was also on that relay, which also returns Basten and senior Travis Scotting from the mix.
Even though they missed the podium by one spot, Benson was thrilled to run in his first state track meet.
"That was really fun," Benson said. "To compete there with the best competition in the state was a great experience."
Hanson's departure will be the biggest hole to fill. Like Basten, he qualified for state in three events and took home two medals.
He was the lone Bison on either the boys or girls squads to qualify for state in a field event, where he placed sixth in pole vault.
Palmer is hopeful some athletes that came close a year ago in the section meet can improve on last year's finishes.
"Hopefully, (senior) Ben Ruhr can step up and fill that void at pole vault," Palmer said.
Ruhr and senior Zach Rome will lead a young group of jumpers. Palmer will have a number of opportunities for throwers and hurdlers to compete for top spots.
Buffalo graduated three top throwers in shot put and discus in Luke White, David Hanson and Josh Muntifering. Hurdlers graduated Patnode, Connor Boster, and Jacob Hagen.
"We have a young hurdle crew that will take a little time," Palmer said. "We're excited about the opportunity to get some young kids some experience."
Buffalo is hoping to improve on its third-place finish in the conference and fourth-place finish in sections.
To do so, Palmer will rely heavily on top finishes in distance events. Basten, Benson, Nick Oak, Ryan Russek, Joey Anderson, and Brett Hanson all competed in last year's state cross country meet.
Benson hasn't competed competitively since last fall's state meet. He's hoping a strong season of winter training will push him over the edge.
"I think the miles will transfer in, but the speed will have to pick back up," said Benson, who hopes to excel mostly in relays and mid-distance events. "We've been putting in the work all winter, so it's nice to finally get out there and see what we can do."
Last season was the first time in three years Buffalo didn't send at least one female to the state meet.
Despite a seventh-place finish in conference and 12th place finish in sections, enough positive things happened a year ago to bring promise to this year's squad.
"There's some experience on the girls' side coming back," Palmer said. Numbers aren't huge, but the experience is good."
Senior captain Cece Miller leads a squad that is young in years, but strong in talent.
"I think we have a really strong girls' team, because we have a lot of returning members," Miller said. "I think our distance team is strong and we have new freshmen that are willing to try new things. They seem very talented at what they want to do."
Like the boys, the girls' squad will rely on top scoring from its distance events.
Buffalo is led by senior captain Amanda Montplaisir, who is looking to be the first Bison female in recent years to qualify for state in three different sports in the same season.
Montplaisir finished fifth in last year's section meet in the 800 run. She is also one of three (Emma Latcham-Reiter, Alexis O'Malley) returning 4x800 relay members that placed fifth at sections.
O'Malley just missed qualifying for state, where she placed third at sections in the 800 run.
Buffalo's 4x100 relay also placed third at sections. The Bison return three members from that group, which includes twin sisters Josie and Katie Lavato, and Mya Tiernan – all sophomores.
"The Lavatos come back after having a great year," said Palmer, who also expects the sisters to compete for a state berth in the 100 and 200 dashes.
Field events return senior Kari Zumach in high jump and junior Rachel Huss in pole vault. Throwers also return experience in senior Emma Forcier and junior Mackenzie Dircks in both shot put and discus.
Palmer hopes the girls can improve on last year's finishes at conference and sections and like the boys, a number of events will be open competition to begin with.
"Numbers are down a bit this year, so that will present a bit of a challenge," Palmer said. "At the same time, these kids will get more attention as well because we won't have as big of numbers."
While she runs cross country in the fall, Miller chooses to do other events in track. Her strengths lie in the 100 and 300 hurdles.
She says training and competition is much different for cross country than it is for track events.
"Mostly it's different for me, because I don't do distance for track," Miller said. "Cross country you run a lot of hills and stuff like that. For track, you're kind of stuck in a circle and everyone can see you, so there is a lot more pressure."
Buffalo's season kicks off with the annual high school Gopher Indoor Classic starting at 4 p.m. on Friday, March 23 at the University of Minnesota Fieldhouse.
The Gopher Classic is an exhibition meet that Buffalo has traditionally opened the season with.
A few select athletes will then participate in the Maverick Indoor Showcase held Saturday, March 31 at Minnesota State University-Mankato's indoor track.
The first official meet takes place at 4 p.m. on Thursday, April 5 in the Monticello Indoor Quadrangular, which features Monticello, Buffalo, Chisago Lakes, and Rogers.
"Indoor meets are actually pretty fun," Benson said. "It changes things up and you get to see your competition right away. It's a little different, but I still like it."
For coaches, indoor meets are a chance to see who has improved from a year ago and which newcomers stand out most.
"We want to see what kids can do and get a baseline of potential speed they might have, and see where we are as far as being in shape and handling the competition level," Palmer said. "That way, moving forward we can put them in the best position as far as being successful."
Buffalo will open its first scheduled outdoor meet at home on Tuesday, April 10 with the Bison Triangular. This marks year two of competition at Bison Field East. Featured teams include: Buffalo, North Branch, and defending conference champions for both boys and girls in St. Michael-Albertville.
"St. Michael will be good," said Palmer, who coaches a few of the Knights in the fall as an assistant coach for the STMA football squad. "They have a lot of speed back. Cambridge-Isanti on either side also has lot of kids back."
Olmscheid named D3hoops.com West Region POY
On Tuesday, March 13, D3hoops.com announced its annual All-Region selections and three Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) men's basketball players made the cut.
Among those listed was Augsburg senior forward Collin Olmscheid, who was named to the All-West Region First Team. Olmscheid was also named the West Region Player of the Year.
The announcement comes one day after all three were selected to the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) Division III All-West District Team. Players chosen to the D3hoops.com All-Region team are now eligible for All-American selection. This is the 17th year D3hoops.com has named an All-Region team and this year's All-America team will be the 21st annual.
Olmscheid, a 2014 graduate of Buffalo High School, led the MIAC in scoring as the only player in the Conference to average 20-plus points per game in 2017-18. He registered double-digit point totals in every MIAC game and all but one contest on the year and converted a MIAC-best 91.6 percent of his free throw attempts in Conference play. A four-year contributor and three-year starter for the MIAC Playoff Champion Auggies, Olmscheid set overall career-highs in nearly every offensive category this season, including minutes (965), field goals (225), field goal percentage (56.4), three-point percentage (46.2), free throw percentage (88.5) and points (613). The 2017-18 MIAC Player of the Year scored 39 points in his final collegiate contest in the NCAA Tournament and finished his career with 1,887 total points and 637 rebounds.
Olmscheid is a marketing major at Augsburg with a minor in communications. He is the son of Dave and Sue Olmscheid of Buffalo.
BHS Knowledge Bowl places third at regions
The season ended for Buffalo High School Knowledge Bowl after placing third in the regional tournament on March 19 in Sartell. Regional teams heading to state are Sauk Rapids-Rice and Sartell-St. Stephen, who placed first and second, respectively. Pictured are Buffalo team members (left-right): Coach Ann Hamann, Emma Staut, Jayde Hoppe, Josh Thielen, Kris Hamann, and Coach Abby Bohler. (Photo by Doug Voerding)