Blossoms hold off Knights in a wild finish in Section 1A semifinals – Austin Daily Herald

Blossoms hold off Knights in a wild finish in Section 1A semifinals

Published 7:31 pm Saturday, March 9, 2024

ROCHESTER – You can knock the Awesome Blossoms down, but you can’t keep them down.

Top-seeded Blooming Prairie shook off a hectic final minute to outlast No. 5 Kingsland 74-72 in a Section 1A quarterfinal in Mayo Civic Center Auditorium Saturday.

BP’s defense closed out the win as Gabe Hein blocked a three-pointer with 25 seconds left and Zack Hein swiped the ball from Kingsland’s Kaleem Reiland on the wing as time expired.

It was a very physical game, but you get beat down, and their student section is talking to you and they are talking to you, and it makes you fight for that win even harder,” said Zack, who finished with 19 points, six assists, four rebounds and three steals. “We’ve been put in some tough stretches this year. At Southland we were down 17-4 and in our conference championship we were down 16 with eight minutes to go. I think our team is based on closing out games like this.”

BP (28-2 overall) led 73-68 with 1:03 left in the game, but Kingsland’s Jayden Brink and Courtland Drury-Deboer each converted lay-ups to make it a 73-72 game with 35 seconds left.

Gabe Hein added 19 points, nine rebounds and three assists. BP head coach Cam Rutledge said he’s always known the Hein twins can score, but their defensive improvements have made a big difference for a squad that went to winning nine games last season, to advancing to the Section 1A title game this year.

They’re so long and lengthy. We knew we wouldn’t have trouble scoring with them this year but we have to make stops,” Rutledge said. “That’s what we did tonight.”

BP rode its starters throughout the entire game as both Heins, Brady Kittelson, who piled up 28 points and five steals, and Gabe Staloch, played the entire game.

“I ask a lot of these guys. I asked them to play a trapping zone, defense, man-to-man defense, and a full core press,” Rutledge said. “They are mentally prepared for it.”

The Knights (23-6 overall) opened the game on an 8-0 run and they led 42-39 early in the second half. Kittelson gave BP a huge momentum burst with 9:33 left in the game when he made a back door cut and threw down a two-handed alley-oop dunk on a high lob pass from Zack Hein to put his team up 51-48.

“I had my blood flowing and I was like ‘hell, I’m going for it. I gave it my all, and I got up for it,” Kittelson, who is six-foot, two inches tall, said.

Kittelson had a put-back score that put BP up 58-55 and he later added a clutch baseline three to make it 66-61 with three minutes left. 

Kingsland was close through the second half, but it never took a lead after Zack Hein hit a three to put BP up 44-42.

BP will now take No. 6 Goodhue in the Section 1A title game at Mayo Civic Center Auditorium at 6 p.m. Thursday. 

Kingsland 36  36  –  72

BP 34  40  –  74

BP scoring: Brady Kittelson, 28; Zack Hein, 19; Gabe Hein, 19; Gabe Staloch, 5; Cooper Cooke, 3

Kingsland scoring: Courtland Druy-DeBoer, 20; Max Erdman, 15; Jayden Brink, 14; Sam Snitker, 6; Gavin Hubka, 5; Parker Johnson, 4; Ayden Howard, 3

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