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Lake City's Brady Kuchinka, in orange, puts up a shot between two Goodhue defenders during the Tigers' 66-55 victory over the Wildcats Tuesday evening. Kuchinka scored 20 points in the win. (Republican Eagle photo by Kyle Stevens)

Boys Basketball: Lake City knocks out Goodhue

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Boys Basketball: Lake City knocks out Goodhue
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Without Brady Kuchinka, Lake City is often forced to play players out of position. The result, for much of the early part of the season, was not good. The Tigers won just two of their first nine games.

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On Dec. 20, Lake City beat Pine Island for their third win, which snapped a five-game losing streak. A week later, Kuchinka made his season debut, scoring 21 points in a win over Ellsworth. And Tuesday’s showdown with Goodhue was more of the same for Kuchinka and the Tigers as Lake City pulled away from the Wildcats, 66-55, for their third consecutive victory, and eighth in nine games.

“A point guard in today’s game is so valuable. He makes everybody better,” said Lake City head coach Greg Berge of Kuchinka. “Especially with our offense and what we try to do, we have a lot of point guards coming through the system and we really have to rely on that system. What it really did in the beginning of the season was we were playing guys out of position, and it has a domino effect on every player. And when you’re doing that against good teams, it shows.

“Now we’ve got people playing in their natural positions, in their natural roles and it makes everyone better.”

Kuchinka’s role in Lake City’s offense was obvious from the get go as the sophomore scored eight straight points in the first half to help the Tigers to a 29-23 halftime lead.

Kuchinka’s run, which ended with 12 minutes, 5 seconds to go in the half, included two 3-pointers, and another field goal with a toe on the line. In all, Kuchinka scored 12 points in the first 18 minutes, and 20 for the game. Reid Lundell also poured in 20 points as the 10th grader and the senior seemingly read each other’s mind a few times.

“Reid and I have good chemistry, just as much as the other guys,” Kuchinka said. “When I got back, it took some time, one or two games, to get going. But we’re playing good basketball right now.”

Coming out of the break, Kuchinka got Lake City going again right away with an and-one 28 seconds into the half. After that, Kuchinka went quiet on the scoreboard, but his teammates put their feet on the gas. Cory Dick and Jesse Oliver knocked down 3-pointers, Lundell scored four quick points and all of a sudden, Goodhue was looking up at a 46-31 deficit, thanks in large part to a defense that created 12 turnovers, several of which led to easy baskets.

“We didn’t want them to transition on us, and then they did, so credit them for pushing against us,” said Goodhue head coach Matt Halverson. “They did a nice job attacking the seams, and that’s one thing that we lack a little bit against a team like Lake City is we don’t have the speed advantage.”

That advantage helped the Tigers shoot 59 percent as a team while the Wildcats hit on just 46 percent of their shots. Lake City also had a big advantage in free throw attempts, 19-8, but hit on just 10 of those.

Goodhue’s Tyler Schumacher matched Kuchinka’s 20 points, but the Wildcats second-highest scorer could not replicate Lundell’s 20 as Riley Bollum netted 12 points.

Goodhue (11-8 overall, 5-8 HVL) will next play Friday at Pine Island as Thursday’s contest against Pine Island has been postponed. The Tigers (10-8, 7-6) will hit the road for consecutive games, taking on Cannon Falls Friday before visiting Zumbrota-Mazeppa Monday.

And if the Bombers or Cougars are thinking they might see the same Kuchinka the Wildcats saw, they might be wrong.

“I’m still not as explosive as I used to be, but I’ll get there,” Kuchinka said. “I still need to get running. I’m still a little out of shape.”

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Kyle Stevens
Kyle Stevens is a sports reporter for the Red Wing Republican Eagle. Previously, Kyle worked at the Owatonna People’s Press, as well as KWLM and KLFN in Willmar. You can contact Kyle by phone at (651) 301-7879, via e-mail at kstevens@republican-eagle.com, and follow him on Twitter @RE_KStevens.
(651) 301-7879
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