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Boys Basketball: Bombers hang with, but can't beat Waseca

Cannon Falls' Austin Noble (left) and Alex Bultena (right) swarm Waseca's Devin Williamson in the paint during the second half of Monday's non-conference game in Cannon Falls. The 10th-ranked Bluejays came away with the 71-67 victory. (Republican Eagle photo by Joe Brown)

CANNON FALLS – Monday’s 71-67 loss to Waseca was equal parts encouraging and frustrating for Cannon Falls.

On one end, the Bombers led for the entire first half, and the 10th-ranked (2A) Bluejays’ biggest lead was only five points.

But with Waseca keeping possessions alive thanks to 12 offensive rebounds, as well as a 20-point night from 6-foot-3 big man Jake Busse, Cannon Falls was just out of reach for the upset.

“There’s just a few things here and there that if we get a couple loose balls, a couple rebounds or make a couple of bunnies, we’d be talking about a pretty big upset,” said Bombers’ head coach Josh Davisson.

Davisson added, “I would say from what I’ve seen in 2A, they’re the best team in the state. They’re starting to get some respect in the polls now and they’re No. 1 in the QRF.”

While the season numbers for the Bluejays are impressing, both Waseca and Cannon Falls were piling up the numbers in the first half as both teams got out to a frantic pace.

The Bombers led by six, 17-11, after a 3-pointer by Jordan Lundell, but the Bluejays stormed back quickly after five straight points from Lucas Johnson. The two teams were tied at 34-34 late in the period before Taylor Carlson rolled in a layup with a second remaining to put Cannon Falls up 36-34 at halftime.

That momentum was short-lived as Busse tied the game back up 38-38. Then with 8:56 left in the game, Busse hit a jumper that made it a two-possession game for the first time in the second half, 51-47. Capping off a six-point swing with that basket, Waseca continued to generate extra chances at the basket thanks to its offensive rebounding.

“We knew we could play with ‘em. We had the conference, but it was the rebounding that killed us,” said Cannon Falls forward Alex Bultena. “We didn’t get some boards that we needed to get, and they had a good high-low game.”

Bultena, who had 19 points and five rebounds, put the Bombers up 58-57 with 5:03 left. But just as quick as Cannon Falls had the lead, it was gone when Waseca’s other big man, Devin Williamson, scored a layup to put the Bluejays up for good.

“We had a tough matchup down low,” Bultena said. “We pride ourselves on defense and we didn’t do as well as we normally do.”

Brock Peterson, who had a team-high 21 points, cut the Bombers’ deficit to 69-67 with a pair of free throws with 11.8  seconds left, and the Bombers quickly sent Waseca’s Shane Streich to the line. Streich hit the first shot, but the second one clanked off the iron. While scrambling for possession, the loose ball went out of bounds and the Bluejays (15-2) retained possession, effectively sealing Waseca’s victory.

“It was tough. It came down to the stretch and we couldn’t make the plays we needed to,” Bultena said.

With the team shooting 51 percent from the field, Jordan Lundell had 10 points, and Austin Noble finished with eight points and seven rebounds.

Monday’s loss was a game Cannon Falls wishes it could have back, but as the Bombers (10-8) go back into Hiawatha Valley League play Tuesday at Triton, hanging with one of Class 2A’s best gave the team a boost.

“To play that good of a team and having them ranked so high, it’s a good feeling even though we lost,” Bultena said. “We’ll get back on track and start winning some of these games.”

Joe Brown

Joe Brown is the sports editor for the Red Wing Republican Eagle. Previously, he worked at the Marshall Independent and the St. Cloud Times. For updates on local sports, follow Joe on Twitter at @RE_JBrown.

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