By Charlie Warner
Argus News Editor
The Caledonia boys basketball team had a very busy and very challenging week, as they faced three state-ranked teams and lost all three contests.
On Feb. 21, they were defeated by Class A state ranked Rushford-Peterson 69-59, two nights later they were topped by Class AA state ranked PEM 85-53 and Saturday evening they dropped a close game to Class AAA state ranked Austin 56-50.
R-P 69, Warriors 59
The Warriors played a very good Rushford-Peterson team even for most of the game, only to lose in the final minutes.
Caledonia was trailing by just four points with two minutes to play. The Trojans went into the stall, forced the Warriors to foul and R-P won the game at the charity line.
The Trojans made 27 of 30 free throws for the game, while Caledonia made 6 of 14. That, and 19 turnovers was the difference in the game, according to coach Josh Diersen.
“Rushford-Peterson has a very good club. You can’t turn the ball over that many times and make 21 fewer free throws and think you’re going to win when playing a team like this.”
The Warriors hit 5 of 16 treys in the game (31 percent) and 45 percent from the field. The Trojans nailed eight treys.
Josh Lampert led the Warriors with 13 points, eight steals, five rebounds and four assists. Kennan Bruening had 10 points and three rebounds. Willie Cordes had nine points, five assists and two steals. Alex Varney scored eight points, had four rebounds and two steals, Andy Kilger had eight points, three rebounds and three assists, Ryan Eppen had five points, five rebounds and two blocked shots and Nate Rohrer had two points and two assists.
PEM 85, Warriors 53
“We played a very bad five minute stretch of basketball in the middle of this game, which resulted in a blow-out,” noted Diersen.
The Warriors were trailing Plainview-Elgin-Millville by three points with less than two minutes remaining in the first half. But the home-standing Bulldogs went on a 5-0 run to end the first half and took a 35-28 lead into the half. At the beginning of the second half Caledonia turned the ball over five straight times and PEM turned all those turnovers into points, as they out-scored the Warriors 17-0.
“That’s when I pulled the starters,” Diersen said. “We weren’t playing well, had another game left in the week and I decided to play our reserves.”
PEM out-scored the Warriors 50 to 35 in the second half for the 32-point margin of victory.
The Warriors had a tough time handling the ball, as they had 25 turnovers for the night. They shot 44 percent from the free throw line, 38 percent from the field and 27 percent from three point land.
“The turnovers and our free throw shooting really killed us in this game. PEM has a good team and they shot 52 percent from the field. It just wasn’t a good night for us,” Diersen added.
Cordes led the Warriors with 12 points. Kilger had nine, Lampert had seven points, 15 rebounds, four assists and two steals, Varney had six points, Ryan Frank and Rohrer both had four points, Matt Petersen had three points, Bruening had two points and five rebounds and Eric Houdek, Josh Nord and Sean Kearney each had two points.
Austin 56, Warriors 50
“The kids really came back to play an excellent game against a very good team,” Diersen said of the Warriors’ six-point loss to Austin. The Packers came into Saturday night’s game in Caledonia with a very tall lineup. They went 6-8, 6-5, 6-3, 6-3 and 6-2 with their starting five.
The Warriors played the much taller Packer team more than even in the first half, as they led 26-23 at the intermission.
Austin was able to gain a small lead in the second half, but Caledonia had a chance to take the lead back with 90 seconds remaining in the game. But several missed shots in the final seconds was the difference in the game.
“Out guards really played well in this game,” Diersen said. “They were up against some very tall kids and were able to move the ball inside for some good looks by our post players. We just missed a couple of shots at the end of the game, which would have given us the win.
“Our kids played very hard and I was very proud of the way they came back after the PEM game. They played very well against a very good team,” Diersen added.
The Warriors made 9 of 13 free throws, shot 45 percent from the field and 3 of 11 treys. They had 17 turnovers.
Varney led the Warriors with 15 points and five rebounds. Cordes had 11 points and four steals. Lampert had six points, six rebounds, six assists and two steals. Eppen had six points, Kilger had five points and three rebounds, Houdek had four points and four rebounds and Bruening had two points and six rebounds.
The Warriors received the #3 seed in the Section 1AA East Sub-section and will host #6 seed Lewiston-Altura March 1 at 7 p.m.
You can contact Charlie Warner at [email protected]