3/23/2017 3:41:00 PM Boys fall short in section championship
The Chisago Lakes boys were disappointed they didn't win the section championship, but they still received a second place plaque.
Trevin Nelson scored his 1,000th career point on this basket in what would be the final game of his high school career.
For the third straight year, the Chisago Lakes boys basketball team was playing for a chance to go to the state tournament.
The two prior years, they split their section championship matches with Hermantown, but this year, the opponent was a new squad in Grand Rapids.
The Thunderhawks toppled Chisago Lakes in the game 73-52, but it wasn’t for a lack of effort or talent on the Wildcats’ end -- they just ran into a hot Grand Rapids team.
“When we were full strength, we had won six games in a row going into the xhampionship game. We were playing our best basketball of the season at the right time and it carried over into sections,” Head Coach Todd Dufault said. “I was very proud how the guys executed our defensive game play against Grand Rapids. We did a great job of defending their top two players and forcing their other kids to make shots. To the credit of Grand Rapids, they hit those shots. Anytime a team shoots 53 percent from the field, it is going to be tough to win. We were just not able to match their offensive efficiency.”
The game last week, started as a wild shootout between the two teams. They both hit early three pointers often. Grand Rapids looked like they might pull away early but senior Trevin Nelson refused to let that happen, scoring the ‘Cats last 11 points of the half, including three three pointers.
In the second half, Nelson continued his onslaught but at one point, he and his teammates went cold and Grand Rapids pounced on the opportunity to stretch the lead. The Thunderhawks piled on and got their lead to near 20 before coasting to a 21 point win at 73-52.
The two teams also had a marked difference in their free throws on the game, with Chisago Lakes only shooting seven and making five while the Thunderhawks made 14-of-18.
Nelson had a game-high 30 points and he also eclipsed 1,000 career points in his final game for the Wildcats. “Trevin is a gamer He loves the pressure and the big moments. He was able to get into a flow offensively so we tried leaning on him a bit,” Dufault said. “It was a very impressive way to end his career. Trevin drew a lot of attention through out the season so that is why it was important to have other guys around him that could hit shots. That makes it tougher on teams.”
Although Dufault’s first season had plenty of ups and downs, he’s happy with how his team performed when it counted most. He said each one left it out on the floor, all season.
“Thomas Gillach and Eric Thompson were great counters to Trevin as shooters. Arran Hickcox who could take it to the rim, Aron Johnson became a threat inside, Will Tinjum who could shoot it. Nils Gulbranson and Noah Johnson off the bench. Guys accepted their roles, bought into half court D and stayed coachable, that is why we were able to make a run at the end of the season, and I credit the kids,” he said.
“Something that often gets overlooked is how our JV kids prepared our varsity minute guys everyday in practice. Their willingness to compete, provide a scout team and work to get better each day was a big part of our TEAM success. That is why every player is important to the program. You also need great assistant coaches to develop success. I am fortunate to have that.”
Dufault had plenty of thanks to go around after his first year as the coach.
“I really enjoyed my first year with a group of players that came to work everyday and got better as the season progressed. Very coachable. Great accomplishment for this team to get to thesection championship. So happy for the kids,” he explained. “And a big THANK YOU to the players, parents and coaches for accepting me into the Wildcat family and making my transition so smooth. I will miss the seniors. They brought great leadership to our team. I wish them the best.”