Optimism was the word for the Minneapolis Boy’s basketball team entering in to 2019.
Not only were the Lions coming off of a 13 win season in 2018-2019–its first winning season since 2015–Minneapolis returned four of its five starters from last season, including seven of 10 varsity players off of the varsity squad from last season.
Minneapolis proved that it is an offensive force to be reckoned with on Friday night at Amos Morris Gym in Russell, as the Lions beat Russell 88-71.
Minneapolis made it’s impression early as the Lions’ “Run and Gun” offense was complimented by a full-court press, tight man-to-man defense throughout the game. MHS would roar out to a 24-13 first quarter lead as Kaden Griffin and Spencer Davidson both paced Minneapolis on the offensive end.
Russell meanwhile, had a weapon of its own: Ceaonte Walston. Walston would carry the Broncos early as he made two first quarter 3-pointers to keep Russell in it.
Unfortunately for Russell, Walston picked up three fouls in the first half, meaning that he had to sit for much of the game.
That’s when Minneapolis took control. With the offense firing on all cylinders, the Minneapolis defense would continue to speed up the Broncos and force them in to turnovers. That process led to easy Minneapolis run-outs.
MHS had a scorching second quarter, firing up 26 points in the period and reaching the half-century mark at halftime, leading 50-28.
The Lions continued to spread the ball around in the second half as Colby Rice knocked down two 3’s for MHS in the period. Nolan White would also heat up from 3, as Griffin continued to slash his way for the scoring lead and Davidson would be the anchor down low that Russell did not have an answer for.
Minneapolis would lead by more than 20 points virtually all second half, as even though Russell heated up in the half, the Broncos did not have enough fire power to keep up.
Russell (0-1, 0-1 NCAA) was led by Walston’s career-best 23 points. Rhett Pospichal also scored 15, while Jacob Sohm added in 10 points.
Minneapolis (1-0, 1-0 NCAA) won what could be its final game in Amos Morris Gym as league foes with Russell, as the Broncos are leaving the NCAA for the Mid-Continent League next year.
The Lions had five players knotch double-figures. Griffin scored 22 points in the win, Davidson had 19, White finished with 13 points, while both Rice and Daniel Watson scored 10 points, each.
MHS now turns its attention to the first game of the Tri-County Classic on Tuesday.
Russell 44, Minneapolis Girl’s 41
Minneapolis battled all night and led for two-in-a-half quarters, however, Russell rallied to down the Lady Lions.
Playing on the road, Minneapolis heated up late in the first quarter as Kersti Nelson made two 3-pointers in the period to put MHS up 16-8 after one.
Russell rallied in the second quarter, however, Minneapolis still led at the break, 26-23.
The Lady Broncos continued their rally in to the third quarter, as late in the period, Russell grabbed the lead and held on to it going in to the final quarter up 36-32.
Nelson continued to keep the Lady Lions in the game as the senior guard made four 3-point shots in the game.
Minneapolis trailed by three points with 13 seconds remaining and Russell at the free-throw line trying to ice the game. The Broncos missed the shot and Minneapolis secured the rebound. The Lady Lions raced up the court and found Cameron Cleveland open for a 3-point shot, however, she did not convert as Russell grabbed the rebound at the buzzer to secure the victory.
Russell (1-0, 1-0 NCAA) dominated the paint as both forwards Rylan Reeves and Aniya Stierlen tallied 12 points, each.
Minneapolis (0-1, 0-1 NCAA) had a heroic effort from Nelson, who finished with a career-high 20 points, however, it was not enough in the loss.
Up next, both Minneapolis teams travel to rival, Bennington, on Tuesday for the first game of the Tri-County Classic tournament which also includes Ell-Saline and Halstead. Tipoff between the Lions and Bulldogs is at 6 p.m. on 92.7 The New Zoo.