Boys Basketball | Triton 66, NRHEG 46 (2AA East)
By Scott A. Kolb
AUSTIN — Top-seeded Triton broke open a close semifinal round subsection game on Thursday night with a decisive run to start the second half.
New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva, seeded fourth, kept things close in the first half of the Class AA, Section Two, East Subsection at Austin High. The NRHEG Panthers only trailed the Triton Cobras by three points at halftime.
The score would’ve been even closer if Coleton Theimann hadn’t hit a shot for the Cobras in the final seconds of the first half. Theimann went on to score a game-high 20 points in leading his team to a 66-46 win.
"This is a tough subsection and all the teams are close to parity, so I wasn’t surprised it was so close at halftime," Triton coach Jason Boe said. "Give credit to the NRHEG kids, they were scrappy and kept it tight in the first half. We were able to outlast them."
Theimann hit the only 3-pointer of the night for the Cobras early in the first half. This give Triton an 11-10 lead at six minutes into the game. The lead then went back-and-forth between the teams over the next few minutes.
Late in the first half, the Cobras got a little breathing room when Theimann made a pair of free throws. Damon Andrews, who was also in double figures for the Cobras, followed with two more from the charity stripe. Zach Osborn then added a pair of free throws as Triton took a 10-point lead.
The Panthers responded with a 9-0 run and got to within a point in the final 30 seconds of the first half. Theimann then scored for the Cobras and that trend continued to open the second half.
Six straight points to start the second half turned the momentum toward Triton. The Panthers finally stopped the run, but Andrews scored and Theimann made it a 40-29 lead with 13:50 remaining in the game.
"We’ve always been a second half team," Theimann said. "Our goal coming out of the locker room was to set the tempo in the first five minutes. We stepped up the pace with our man-to-man defense and got it done."
It didn’t take long for the Cobras to put the game away. Theimann had six straight points and pushed the lead to 16 with nine minutes left.
The Cobras defense forced a total of 21 turnovers by the Panthers on the night. This told the tale of the second half as the Panthers faded from view. After a strong first half, NRHEG only scored 19 points in the second half.
Scoring balance and their defensive tenacity carried the Cobras to the subsection finals. Zach Osborn, who was one of eight different players to score for the Cobras, made it a 50-33 lead with 6:41 to play. More free throws from Theimann eventually took the lead beyond 20 points with four minutes left.
Keith Billing scored 11 points to lead the Panthers and he was the only player on his team to reach double figures in the loss.
Due to a scheduling conflict with the women’s basketball team from Minnesota State University, the finals of Section 2AA East have been pushed back a day. Triton now plays on Tuesday night at Bresnan Arena in Mankato.
Keith Billing 11, Tyler Firme 8, Cory Camerer 8, Brett Hagen 7, Payden Peterson 4, Greg Ramaker 4, Hunter Eustice 2, Darrin Schulenberg 2.
Coleton Theimann 20, Damon Andrews 14, Zach Osborn 9, Garrett Schaefer 7, Pat Haltvick 6, Logan Spitzack 6, Dylan Bungum 2, Dillon Wright 2, Jaden Peterson 0.
Halftime: Triton 30, NRHEG 27.
Free throws: NRHEG 8-14, Triton 17-25.
Three-point goals: NR 2-11 (Hagen 1, Billing 1). TRI 1-10 (Theimann 1).
Rebounds: NR 24 (Firme 7); TRI 33 (Spitzack 8).
Turnovers: NRHEG 21, Triton 10.
Fouled out: NR, Billing. TRI, Schaefer.