M-Leeds stopped by Rockets, illness
The flu bug hit the Minnewaukan-Leeds boys basketball team at the worst possible time, and as a result, the third-seeded Lions’ entered their Region 4 Tournament quarterfinal with No. 2 New Rockford-Sheyenne on March 9 not at their best.
Nevertheless, the squad gave a spirited effort for the better part of one half, before succumbing to the Rockets 72-43.
“I give our kids credit for going out there and competing,” said Lions coach Mark Swanson. “However, it was evident right away we just didn’t have the energy and strength to match New Rockford-Sheyenne’s speed.”
M-L trailed by a basket after one quarter and were just four points down in the final minutes of the second quarter before NR-S went on a scoring run to build a 10-point halftime lead.
“I thought the break would be good for us, but we just couldn’t get going in the third quarter,” Swanson said.
The Rockets stretched its lead to 21 points after three quarters, and the final eight minutes was spent by both teams getting young players into the game.
“What’s disappointing is we were playing pretty good basketball leading up to the tournament,” Swanson said. “I told the players afterward this is one of those life lessons. Something can come up that is out of yor control.”
A handful of players spent the week leading up to the tournament at home trying to build up their strength, and not on the practice court preparing to face the Rockets.
“There wasn’t a lot we could do in practice, since we had guys missing,” said Swanson. “When those (sick) players did come, they still weren’t in any condition to go through a full practice. All they could do was do some shooting.”
Three Lions starters – Steve Hausmann, Dustin Paulson and Matt Swanson – were no where near healthy, and their point totals reflected that. Seniors Hausmann and Paulson, both all-district selections, and who were averaged double figures in points throughout the season, finished with nine points each. Swanson, a junior, had six.
The Lions were making their fifth straight region tournament appearance, and for the second straight season, dropped its opening round game. The squad had quite a turnaround after a 1-7 start, winning nine of its last 11 regular season games and ending the season with a 12-11 mark.
“I think in the first eight games we were outrebounded in five of them,” Swanson said. “After that, we won the rebounding battle in nearly every game.
Notes: The March 10 semifinal round was pushed back to March 12 due to bad weather and the third place and championship games were moved to March 13…North Star was the only District 8 team to win its quarterfinal game.
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