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Blooming Prairie, Kingsland will meet in boys basketball semifinals

Mar. 4—ROCHESTER — When jumping is a strength, it's tough for a basketball player not to show it off.

It can also get players and teams in trouble.

The No. 1-seeded Blooming Prairie Blossoms spent the first half of their game Monday allowing their springs to be their own worst enemy. Six-foot-4 twins, top leapers and stars Gabe and Zack Hein were the biggest victims of their desire to bounce and block shots. No. 8-seed Kenyon-Wanamingo took advantage, continually getting quality shots after an up fake or two.

That was a primary reason the Knights were more than in this Section 1, Class 1A quarterfinal game at Mayo Civic Auditorium, working their magic inside and grabbing a 33-32 intermission lead.

"That's been a problem for us all year," Gabe Hein said. "We try to stay on our feet on defense, but we have guys who can jump out of the gym, so it's exciting to block shots. But we have to stay cool and stay on our feet, and not get in foul trouble."

The No. 6-ranked Blossoms accomplished all of those things in the second half. That, combined with a smoother flowing offense and a bunch of guys who got hot from the perimeter at the same time, added up to not just a nice Blooming Prairie comeback but the Blossoms winning in a rout, 72-47.

That sends Blooming Prairie to the section semifinals, where it will face No. 5 seed Kingsland at 4 p.m. Saturday at Mayo Civic Auditorium.

The contest remained tight for the first 7 minutes of the second half. At that point, the teams were tied 43-all.

Then, Blooming Prairie — and especially those Hein twins — went to work.

"We played good team basketball in the second half and our shots started to go in," Gabe Hein said. "We followed the game plan."

Gabe and Zach were equally devastating to K-W, the seniors combining for 45 points. Zach had 24 and hit four 3-pointers and Gabe had 21 points. Brady Kittelson added 16 points and Gabe Staloch had nine points and four 3-pointers.

Blooming Prairie finished the game with a whopping 11 treys. Six of those came in the Blossoms' sizzling final 10 minutes.

K-W finished its season 16-12. It was led by Zach Mason with 12 points.

Blooming Prairie moved to 27-2. One of its two losses had been to K-W.

Blooming Prairie 72, Kenyon-Wamamingo 47

KENYON-WAMAMINGO (72)

Tanner Hedeen 8 P, 2 3-PT; Ruff Aldorfer 2 P; Zach Mason 12 P, 2 3-PT; Colton Steber 7 P, 1 3-PT; Eli Hedeen 8 P, 1 3-PT; Joe Mills 8 P, 1 3-PT; Oliver Bauer 2 P.

BLOOMING PRAIRIE (47)

Gabe Hein 21 P, 1 3-PT; Zack Hein 24 P, 4 3-PT; Cooper Cooke 2 P; Brady Kittelson 16 P, 2 3-PT; Gabe Staloch 9 P, 4 3-PT.

Halftime: KW 33, BP 32.

Free throws: KW 4-0, BP 4-5.

Three-point goals: KW 7, BP 11.

It was expected that Kingsland would field a quick and strong basketball team this season.

After all, the bulk of these guys played on the Knights' state runner-up football squad in the fall.

Kingsland showed just how athletic it is Monday in the Section 1, Class 1A boys basketball quarterfinals at Mayo Civic Auditorium, scoring a slight upset in knocking off No. 11-ranked and No. 4 seed Southland 74-63. Kingsland was seeded fifth.

It was the Knights' defense that jumped out, creating a flurry of Rebels turnovers and in the second half especially hounding Southland once it got into its half-court offense.

That intensity sent Kingsland from tied at halftime (35-35) to getting ready to play No. 1 seed Blooming Prairie in Saturday's 4 p.m. semifinals at Mayo Civic Auditorium.

"We have athletes and that's huge," said Kingsland coach John Fenske, whose team moved to 21-5 overall while Southland ended at 21-6. "We have 10 or 11 really good athletes on this team and some of them have to sit on the bench because the guys in front of them are just a little bit better."

Kingsland had the same athletes the previous two times that it played Southland this season. Both of those meetings turned into Knights losses, 75-70 and 62-46.

Still, Kingsland approached this contest with no fear. It figured this was its time.

"We got really hyped in the locker room at halftime," standout Kingsland point guard Jayden Brink said. "We wanted to win; we didn't want to go home. Playing here, in this (loud and crowded) atmosphere, it's just different. We're not surprised we won. We came here expecting to win."

Brink had a whole lot to do with the final outcome. A senior who averages 20 points per game and is a lethal 3-pointer shooter, he came up with some nice offense again — 15 points, with four 3-pointers.

But he brought more than just scoring to this quarterfinal game. He brought a competitive nature to match his teammates as well as showed off an ability to remain poised while running things at point guard.

In a game that was frenetic from start to finish, all of that cool was pivotal.

Brink has figured out how to maintain that composure.

"When I'm out there, I just block everything out," Brink said. "I don't hear anything out there but my teammates. My goal is just the next play, trying to get a bucket for me or one of my teammates."

That went especially well in the second half when Brink knocked in three of his four 3-point baskets. Kingsland had 10 3-pointers as a team, six of them after halftime.

After the teams were tied 46-all with 13:04 remaining, Kingsland dominated the rest of the action. Sam Snitker hit a 3-pointer, Parker Johnson scored on a driving shot and then Brink buried a trey. Suddenly, Kingsland had some breathing room, up 54-46.

Brink hit another 3-pointer about a minute later making it a nine-point game. From there, Kingsland grew its lead.

Brink didn't finish as his team's leading scorer. That distinction went Max Erdman, who hit a trio of 3-pointers and finished with 25 points. Courtland Druy-DeBoer, a 6-foot inside player, chipped in with 16 points. The senior used a slithering and cagey approach to somehow get shots off against the taller Rebels.

Southland 6-6 senior center Nick Edland, who'd dominated Kingsland in the first two meetings, was held to two points. Southland was paced by Noah Bauer with 21 points. It was Drury-Deboard who defended Edland most of the night, with plenty of help from teammates.

Kingsland 74, Southland 63

KINGSLAND (74)

Jayden Brink 15 P, 4 3-PT; Ayden Howard 4 P; Sam Snitker 4 P, 1 3-PT; Parker Johnson 6 P; Courtland Druy-DeBoer 16 P, 2 3-PT; Max Erdman 25 P, 3 3-PT; Gavin Hubka 3 P; Kaaleem Reiland 1 P.

SOUTHLAND (63)

Jonas Wiste 9 P, 1 3-PT; Gavin Nelson 12 P; Noah Bauer 21 P, 2 3-PT; Andrew Timm 3 P, 1 3-PT; Sam Boe 9 P; Nick Edland 2 P; Maverick Hanna 2 P.

Halftime: KING 35, SOUTH 35.

Free throws: KING 14-19, SOUTH 2-14.

Three-point goals: KING 10, SOUTH 4.