By Gary Larson
Mille Lacs County Times
Annandale trimmed Milaca 72-49 in the quarterfinals of the Section 5AA, North Sub-Section Boys Basketball Tournament Thursday night, March 8 at Annandale.
The No. 2-seeded Cardinals rebounded extremely well while the No. 7-seeded Wolves did not. And, that was the key factor in the one-sided game.
Annandale, which led 43-26 at halftime, finished with a commanding 33-13 edge in rebounds. The Cardinals had 21 offensive rebounds and 12 on the defensive board while the Wolves had just two offensive rebounds and 11 defensive rebounds.
“Their offensive rebounds translated to a lot more shots and offensive possessions,” said Milaca Coach Dustin Naumann. “They ended up with something like 18 second-chance points.
“We did some things well but rebounding was not one of them.”
“We stress rebounding and one of our goals each game is to pound people on the boards,” said Annandale Coach Don “Skip” Dolan. “We take kids out in practice and games if they don’t go to the offensive boards. If they want to play they have to rebound. Nothing makes a team look good better than getting two to three shots a trip up the floor.”
Milaca shot well, 60.7 percent (17-for-28) on two-point attempts and 42.9 percent (3-7) from three point range and the Wolves had just 14 turnovers.
But, Annandale shot 51.6 percent (16-31) on two-point attempts and 36.7 percent (11-30) on three-point shots. Annandale’s 24-point edge from three-point baskets nearly matched its 23-point victory margin.
Milaca senior guard Brandon Kiel closed out his record-setting season by scoring 27 points. He ends his career as Milaca’s all-time leading scorer, with 1,754 points.
“We knew from scouting reports that in Brandon we would be playing one of the better offensive players we had seen all season,” said Dolan. “We tried to wear him out but to his credit he still broke our defense down at times and ended up with a great game.”
Ninth-grade forward Michael Garber scored eight points and sophomore guard Brian Kiel had six.
“Overall, we gave it our best shot and, with the exception of rebounding, we did enough to make the game competitive,” added Naumann, whose first season as Milaca head coach came to an end.
Sophomore forward Matt Miller had 27 points and junior guard Brett Ahsenmacher scored 20 for the Cardinals, who boosted their record to 16-10.
Milaca finished with a 2-22 record.
In other quarterfinals games March 8, top-seeded St. Cloud Cathedral handled No. 8-seeded Spectrum 71-34, No. 3-seeded Maple Lake stopped No. 6-seeded Foley 61-45 and No. 4-seeded Rockford defeated No. 5-seeded Kimball 57-53.
In the semifinals Saturday at the Howard Lake-Waverly Middle School, Cathedral topped Rockford 71-53 and Annandale stopped Maple Lake 70-51.
Cathedral and Annandale were scheduled to meet Tuesday night (March 13)at Dassel-Cokato.
The semifinal winners of the Section 5AA South Sub-Section, No. 1-seeded Watertown-Mayer and No. 3-seeded Howard Lake-Waverly/Winsted, also met Tuesday at Dassel-Cokato.
Tuesday’s winners advanced to the Section 5AA championship game Friday, March 16, at St. Cloud State University’s Halenbeck Hall, at 8 p.m..
In South-Sub-Section games Thursday, March 8, No. 1-seeded Watertown-Mayer topped No. 8-seeded Sibley East 69-50, No. 5-seeded Norwood-Young America stopped No. 4-seeded Jordan 75-64, No. 2-seeded Mayer Lutheran defeated No. 7-seeded Glencoe-Silver Lake 51-46 and No. 3-seeded Howard Lake-Waverly/Winsted topped No. 6-seeded Providence Academy 78-37.
Last Saturday at Dassel-Cokato, Watertown-Mayer defeated Norwood-Young America 67-33 and Howard Lake-Waverly/Winsted stopped Mayer Lutheran 60-50.