Maple River Wins Gopher Conference Boys Title in Hayfield
A packed Hayfield Vikings gym saw two state ranked teams use a shot clock in the overall Gopher Conference Boys Championship.
The West Division Champion Eagles of Maple River pulled out a 56-51 win in the physical game. They jumped out to a 8-1 start before the East Champion Vikings came back to take a 28-23 halftime lead.
Maple River took a 36-35 lead with 8:20 to go in the second half. 7 seconds later Hayfield led 38-35 and the see-saw continued. At 5:22 the game was tied at 43.
With 3:17 left in regulation Hayfield took a 48-47 lead. 47.5 seconds to go it was 54-51 Maple River with Hayfield in possession, but a turnover ended that and their next possession forcing the Vikings to foul.
Clearly the difference in the game was turnovers. The Vikings had 17 by my tally with the Eagles scoring 17 points off of them. They cashed in on 2 of the final 3 miscues in the last couple minutes of the game.
Maple River finished the game with 11 turnovers. Hayfield scored 5 points off them.
The 35 second shot clock didn't appear to have any effect on either team running their offense.
Both teams struggled at the free throw line with the Vikings going 11 for 18 and the Eagles 9 of 18.
Maple River's bench was huge in the game with 14 points while Hayfield had no bench points.
The Eagles used their size well pounding the ball inside to take advantage of that asset.
Hayfield Sophmore 6'4 Zander Jacobson fouled out with 1:29 to go.
Senior 6'3 Lucas Doering scored Maple River's first 8 points, finished the game with 15 points all in the lane. He hit 3 big free throws down the stretch after missing his first 4 attempts.
Hayfield junior 5'11 Ethan Pack tallied 17 points, senior 6'0 Easton Fritcher had 13 and junior 6'2 Isaac Matti had 12.
The Vikings connected 4 times from three point range while the Eagles flew in 3 from beyond the three point line.
Hayfield had 7 field goals the second half while Maple River collected 11. 4 of them off the bench.
It was the second loss of the season for Hayfield. They enter postseason action with a 25-2 record.
Maple River now 23-4 is in Section 2 Class 2A and opens play March 8, 2022. The Eagles have won 6 straight games heading into the playoffs.
Maple River was rated #6 in the latest Minnesota Basketball News Class 2A boys rankings while Hayfield was #1 in Class 1A.
The Vikings did learn earlier today they are the top seed in the Section 1A Boys Basketball tournament and host the winner of a Tuesday game between Mabel-Canton (8-18) and Wabasha-Kellogg (7-19) being played in Wabasha.
Section 1A is loaded at the top with some excellent basketball teams.
If they play their game any of the top 6 teams could go to state.
Other Tuesday play-in games are #18 Houston (1-24) at #15 Schaeffer Academy (10-16) with the winner going to #2 Rushford-Peterson (20-4).
#19 Glenville-Emmons (1-24) at #14 Bethlehem Academy (9-15) the winner at #3 Goodhue (20-6) Thursday night.
Other Section 1A opening games Thursday are #13 Kingsland (11-15) at #4 Spring Grove (22-4). #5 Kenyon-Wanamingo (20-5) in the Castle against #12 Grand Meadow (11-15).
#9 Leroy-Ostrander (16-10) at #8 Randolph (13-13). #10 Lanesboro (16-10) at #7 Southland (16-6). #6 Lyle-Pacelli (22-4) hosts #11 Fillmore Centra (9-17).
This is interesting.
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