R-P is runner-up, Caledonia third at state
Wednesday, March 19, 2014 7:30 AM
The Spring Grove boys (25-4) lost to only two Minnesota teams, each of which won two out of three games at the state tournament last week. Rushford-Peterson and Caledonia were each eliminated by the state's top-ranked team.
Spring Grove captain Dustin Vickerman (center) is flanked by Caledonia’s Austin Bauer (#25) and Kyle Sorenson (#43) during the Holiday Festival. The two Warriors were named to the Class AA All-State Tournament Team last week. JON SPELTZ/SPRING GROVE HERALD
R-P was at the Class A tourney for the third straight season after back-to-back third place finishes. This year, the Trojans moved up one rung to be the state runner-up.
With the No. 3 seed, R-P dismissed Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City 71-62 in the quarterfinals. In a rematch of last year's semi-final, the Trojans achieved a payback win against No. 2 Maranatha Christian 53-51.
Top seed and state-ranked No. 1 Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa came in at 30-1 to face R-P at 31-1 in the championship game with both losses coming against larger class powerhouses. The Jaguars were in the finals for the third straight season after winning it all in 2012 and taking second in 2013.
B-B-E won 52-40 using distinct advantages in length and height to outrebound R-P. After trailing 11-0, the Trojans came back to take a 24-20 halftime lead.
For several minutes in the second half, R-P played with point guard Cole Kinglsley on the sideline with four fouls.
It was 39-all before B-B-E would pull away for good. R-P scored only one point during the last six minutes.
Three Trojan starters graduate, but five of the eight most-used players return with plenty of playoff experience. The B-team was undefeated including a close 39-33 encounter at Spring Grove.
In Class AA, Caledonia was back at state for the first time since winning the state title in 1997. The Warriors closed at 29-3 with a 79-65 victory over Fairmont in the third place game. Unranked in the final regular season poll, Caledonia received the No. 4 tourney seed and dominated No. 5 seed St. Paul Academy & Summit School 73-53 in the quarterfinals.
The semi-final was the closest game with Caledonia falling 81-76 to top seed Annandale. The Warriors, a 34-percent three-point shooting team, managed only 6 of 30 three-point attempts (20 percent) in the loss.
No. 2 seed Esko defeated Annandale in the finals.
The Warriors' Austin Bauer and Kyle Sorenson were named to the Class AA All-Tournament Team.