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Boys Basketball: Goodhue routs Southland, heads to 1A-West finals

Goodhue's Riley Augustine (left) puts a shot up over Southland's Alex Ruechel during the first half of Monday's Section 1A-West semifinal game at the Mayo Civic Auditorium in Rochester. (Republican Eagle photo by Joe Brown)

ROCHESTER -- Goodhue had the perfect plan to pester Southland on Monday.

Playing for a spot in the Section 1A-West sub-section finals, the top-seeded Wildcats slowed down the game on offense and converted on 61 percent of its shots, then used its top-five defense to hold the Rebels to three first-half field goals en route to a convincing 68-41 victory at the Mayo Civic Auditorium.

“They didn’t get many easy looks,” said Goodhue head coach Matt Halverson. “We didn’t leave many shots uncontested and that’s our goal defensively.”

Now, the Wildcats will plan for Bethlehem Academy in the 1A-West final at 2 p.m. Saturday in Rochester. The No. 3 seed Cardinals moved on after a 56-30 victory against No. 2 Blooming Prairie on Monday.

The key all along was to infuriate fourth-seeded Southland on defense, and that started by shutting down Lukas Anderson, the team’s main offensive threat. Anderson finished with 11 points, but that came on 33 percent shooting, including 1 of 6 from 3-point range.

“We had to shut him down to shut the team down,” said Goodhue guard Alex Thomforde. “We had to box out and find him, and that was the main game plan.”

With plenty of midcourt traps and a 2-3 zone that forced 14 Southland turnovers, the Wildcats’ defense paved the way to a 32-11 halftime lead. Over the last 10 minutes of the half, the Rebels had just one field goal, a breakaway layup by Alex Ruechel at 8:48.

Offensively, the Wildcats (18-10) were just as dominating, ending the first half on a 19-3 run.

Everyone was confident with the ball and getting good shots,” said Thomforde, who facilitated the offense from the point with five assists along with five points and four rebounds. “Everyone could get it to the hoop.”

Leading that effort was Riley Bollum, who had a game-high 21 points on 7 of 11 shooting. Riley Augustine had 13 points along with six rebounds, and Tyler Schumacher had 12 points.

All the while, Goodhue’s offense managed to slow down Southland almost as well as its defense. And that inability to get out and run for the Rebels added to the frustration as the Wildcats led by as much as 28 late in the game.

“They were getting really frustrated when we were passing it around and slowing the game down,” Schumacher said. “They wanted to run-and-gun, but we weren’t letting them and they were putting up bad shots.”