Clone of Defense shines early in sweep of Minnetonka


Bison win another nail biter at home; series splits with Eden Prairie, Edina


When it comes to home games this season for the Buffalo boys’ basketball team, there has been no shortage of drama.

Four of the six home games to date have all been decided by one possession. Buffalo has been on the winning end of three of those four nail biters. The most recent coming in a 57-54 victory on Wednesday, Feb. 10 against Minnetonka.

The game was a tale of two halves. Buffalo used a stifling defensive effort to hold the Skippers to just 14 points in the first half. The Bison led 30-14 at the break. Minnetonka outscored Buffalo 40-27 in the second half, a half in which the Skippers nearly overcame a 16-point deficit with under eight minutes to play.

“When you can hold a team to 14 points in a half, no matter how the second half goes, you’re going to give yourself a chance,” said Head Coach Josh Ortmann.

The Skippers average 62.6 points per game, but are 3-6 through their first nine games. One of those defeats came in a 59-53 overtime loss in the season opener against Buffalo.

Ortmann knows records can’t be trusted this season, especially when facing the Lake Conference. One of Minnetonka’s three wins came in a 63-61 victory against No. 3 ranked Hopkins.

“We know they go as numbers 1 (Andy Stefonowicz), 2 (Jalen Cain), and 12 (Vlad Ciubotaru) go. When those three get going, like they did against Hopkins, they are a very scary team,” Ortmann said. “We challenged our kids defensively, and put a lot on Carter Jackson’s shoulders to guard number 12, who is probably one of the best shooters in the state. Carter made him feel as uncomfortable as I’ve ever seen him.”

Ciubotaru came into the game averaging 18.4 points per game, but ended the night scoreless, and wasn’t even on the floor in the closing few minutes.

With Ciubotaru silenced by Jackson, Cohen Kellogg helped fill the void offensively with 11 second-half points for Minnetonka.

Buffalo led 45-29 with 7:30 left, but five-straight points by Stefonowicz gave Minnetonka life. Some timely three pointers in the second half by Cameron Green helped maintain the Buffalo lead. Green has become one of Buffalo’s top scorers in his first year as a starter.

“After practice, I shoot almost 100 threes every day. I work very hard at it,” Green said. “All those guards that work really hard to get me open are the guys I have to thank. If I get open, I’m trying to knock it down.” 

Buffalo held what appeared to be a comfortable 55-46 lead with just over a minute to play, but the Skippers scored five-quick points on a Cain layup, which was followed by a three-point bucket by Stefonowicz with 59.7 seconds left.

Cain scored a game-high 25 points. If not for Cain’s offense, Minnetonka could have been held in single digits in a first half where he scored 11 of the Skipper 14 points.

Maybe the key play in the game came with Buffalo up 55-51. Luke Gunderson’s block with 30.3 seconds left denied Kellogg a chance to close the gap to two points. On Buffalo’s next possession, Gunderson hit a pair of free throws to seal the victory.

The Skippers scored three points late, all coming on free throws by Kellogg, who was fouled with 0.3 seconds left on a three-point attempt.

Antonio Bluiett led Buffalo with 17 points. Zach Zrust added 14 and Cameron Green scored 11. The victory gave Buffalo a sweep of the season series, and improved their overall record to 4-4.

“Anytime you beat a Lake Conference team, it’s a big deal, so to be able to sweep them, it shows we’re going in the right direction as a program,” Green said. “We just have to keep pecking at it and keep grinding every game.”

Green and the Bison played a rare Wednesday night game due to the events that happened the day before in Buffalo. The game with Minnetonka was originally scheduled for Tuesday night.

“I know the community is hurting,” Green said. “I know Tuesday, my mind wasn’t focused on playing basketball. We’re kind of lucky we didn’t play yesterday. It didn’t feel like an appropriate time to play a game, but anytime we come out here, where we can give the community something to root for and pull together, it feels nice to come together as one.”

Buffalo’s attempt to sweep the two games against Eden Prairie was denied in last Friday’s 69-50 road loss.

Tied 16-16, the Eagles ran off 16-straight points to open a 32-16 advantage. Buffalo trailed 35-25 at half. The Bison were forced to play catch-up the rest of the way. A Luke Gunderson three pointer midway through the second half closed the deficit to single digits, but the Eagles balanced scoring from all five starters proved to be the difference.

Will Foster led Eden Prairie with 14. Ryan Warren scored 13, Chiddi Obiazor had 11. Buffalo was led by Bluiett with 15. Will Pool scored 13. Gunderson had 10.

The Bison and Eagles split their two games with Buffalo winning the first meeting 66-65.

“Obviously, yes it felt good to sweep Minnetonka,” Ortmann said. “What people don’t understand is how difficult it is to compete in this conference. Any time you can find a way to be successful in the win-loss column in this conference, you take it.”

Buffalo update at Edina Tuesday night coming….


Buffalo 57, Minnetonka 54

(Wednesday, Feb. 10 at Buffalo)

Skippers                  14  40  -  54

Bison                      30  27  -  57

Skippers (54) -- Jalen Cain 25; Cohen Kellogg 13; Andy Stefonowicz 11; Will Koeppen 3; Chase McPherson 2.

Bison (57) -- Antonio Bluiett 17; Zach Zrust 14; Cameron Green 11; Carter Jackson 6; Will Pool 5; Luke Gunderson 4.


Eden Prairie 69, Buffalo 50

(Friday, Feb. 12 at Eden Prairie)

Bison                      25  25  -  50

Eagles                     35  34  -  69

Bison (50) -- Antonio Bluiett 15; Will Pool 13; Luke Gunderson 10; Carter Jackson 4; Zach Zrust 3; Cameron Green 3; Carson Giddings 2.

Eagles (69) -- Will Foster 14; Ryan Warren 13; Chiddi Obiazor 11; Matt Kelley 9; Cole Tiran 8; Jermell Taylor 8; Miles Smith 3; Dalal Gaarhaye 3.


Edina, Buffalo

(Tuesday, Feb. 16 at Edina)

Bison                      25  25  -  50

Hornets                   35  34  -  69

Bison (50) -- Antonio Bluiett 15; Will Pool 13; Luke Gunderson 10; Carter Jackson 4; Zach Zrust 3; Cameron Green 3; Carson Giddings 2.

Hornets (69) -- Will Foster 14; Ryan Warren 13; Chiddi Obiazor 11; Matt Kelley 9; Cole Tiran 8; Jermell Taylor 8; Miles Smith 3; Dalal Gaarhaye 3.



The Drummer and The Wright County Journal Press

PO Box 159
108 Central Ave.
Buffalo MN 55313

Sign Up For Breaking News

Stay informed on our latest news!

Manage my subscriptions

Subscribe to Breaking News feed