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Stier's career night elevates Stewartville past gritty Pine Island

Stewartville Tigers logo
Stewartville Tigers logo

ROCHESTER – Pine Island coach Jim McNamara felt pretty good at halftime. His Pine Island squad trailed just 26-24 at intermission. They had held Stewartville star Will Tschetter to just two points on 1-for-3 shooting from the field, and they had got Tschetter in foul trouble.

They had executed the gameplan perfectly.

Then, Tschetter showcased why Loyola coach Porter Moser and the entire Colorado State coaching staff would make the trek to Rochester to watch him play.

Despite picking up his fourth foul with more than 12 minutes left in the game, Tschetter scored 14 of his 16 points in the second half, including two, fadeaway triples which gave Stewartville some much-needed space.

Tschetter combined with point guard Nolan Stier for 45 points to help the third-seeded Stewartville Tigers cruise into the Section 1AA championship game with a 71-59 win over Pine Island.

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McNamara could only throw his hands up in the air. He couldn't stop Stier in the first half and Tschetter was unconscious in the second half.

"We were right with them, two points, one way or the other, but give him credit," McNamara said. "Tschetter came flying off screens with a hand in his face and shot them. Fading away and hit two of them. He’s a great player."

Pine Island brought three defenders to try and help stop Tschetter. The problem was that they left Stier with way too much room far too often. The junior point guard racked up a career night.

Stier scored 29 points, ripped down eight rebounds and dished out five assists.

"He’s always been able to control the game," Stewartville coach Adam Girtman said. "He’s grown a lot mentally in the last year. Very rarely, can they take the ball from him. He does a really nice job of controlling the tempo and controlling the game. He gave us an all-around dominating game."

Pine Island had all the momentum after Tschetter picked up his fourth foul, but Stier quieted the Pine Island crowd with a gut-check triple right in front of his own student section.

He motioned that his defender was "too small" after cashing in the 3-pointer.

"This is the best game of my career so far," Stier said. "It’s so nice, especially when your teammates are helping you out so much."

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It’s the third time that Stewartville has beaten Pine Island this season, but afterward, the Stewartville coaching staff told McNamara that Pine Island’s defense was the best anyone has played on Tschetter all season long.

Two seniors led Pine Island in scoring. Carter O’Reilly had a rough start but got it cooking in the second half and finished with 19. Connor Bailey nailed 3 3-pointers and finished with 17 points.

"I love coaching these kids," McNamara said. "They put it on the line every night." 

Pine Island finished their terrific season 17-12.

Stewartville (24-5) will play Caledonia in the Section 1AA championship game on Thursday at 8 p.m. at the Civic Center. It’s the first time since 2009 that Stewartville has advanced to the Section title game. 

"I think Caledonia is ranked rather high in the state," Girtman said. "It’s going to be a good test for us and a really good game. We’ll hopefully put together a solid gameplan. Any time you have two Kings and a bunch of shooters, it’s going to be tough. But we have the best player and I like our chances."

No. 3 Stewartville 71, No. 10 Pine Island 59

STEWARTVILLE (71)

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Nolan Stier 29 P, 3 3-PT; Kaleb Hellickson 4 P, 1 3-PT; Bradon Holschlag 9 P, 1 3-PT; Bode Mayer 13 P; Will Tschetter 16 P, 2 3-PT 

PINE ISLAND (59)

Caleb Henderson 5 P, 1 3-PT; Connor Bailey 17 P, 3 3-PT; Max Owen 3 P, 1 3-PT; Johnny Bauer 12 P, 2 3-PT; Carter O’Reilly 19 P, 1 3-PT; Matthew Hockey 3 P, 1 3-PT

Halftime:STEW 26, PI 24

Free throws: STEW 4-6, PI 4-7

Three-point goals: STEW 7, PI 9

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