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Nevis' Mitch Rehkamp (25) battled Menahga's Tom Gruchow and Markus Tolkkinen for a rebound during Thursday night's playoff game.

Tigers oust Braves from Section 5A tournament

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Tigers oust Braves from Section 5A tournament
Park Rapids Minnesota PO Box 111 56470

Nolan Toft's four consecutive baskets midway through the first half gave Nevis the lead for good as the Tigers eliminated Menahga from the Section 5A boys basketball tournament with a 77-61 victory Thursday night at the Tiger Arena.

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Menahga, the No. 6 seed in the west half of the section, held the lead until the 8:17 mark of the first half before Toft sparked the No. 3-seeded Tigers to the win.

Derek Pihlaja opened the game with a 3-pointer before Hunter Schroeder's basket off a rebound and Dylan Stenberg's layup off a steal gave Nevis a 4-3 lead.

After a layup by Menahga's Marlin Aho and a jumper by Nevis' Taylor Chase, the Braves used a layup by Markus Tolkkinen, a layup by Aho, two free throws by Tolkkinen and a layup off a steal by Tom Gruchow to build a 14-10 lead with 10:20 to play in the first half.

Toft hit a jumper and drove in for two layups to give the Tigers a 16-14 edge at the 8:53 mark before Pihlaja hit another 3-pointer to give Menahga a 17-16 advantage with 8:30 to play.

Toft's jumper at the 8:17 mark gave Nevis a lead it would not relinquish.

Schroeder hit a 3-pointer to push the lead to 21-17 with 7:50 to play in the first half.

Pihlaja and Nevis' Shawn Anglin exchanged layups before Gruchow and Anglin exchanged two free throws and inside baskets as Nevis clung to a 27-23 lead at the 4:27 mark.

The Tigers pushed their advantage to 35-24 with 1:21 remaining in the half behind a basket off a rebound by Chase, a jumper by Toft and two inside baskets by Logan Gooch. Aho's jumper ended the scoring as Nevis carried a 35-26 lead into the intermission.

Nevis opened the second half with a 6-0 run as a layup by Stenberg, a jumper by Toft and a layup by Schroeder extended the lead to 41-26 with 16:14 to play.

Menahga countered with a 10-2 run as a three-point play by Gruchow, two jumpers by Aho and a 3-pointer by Sean Dormanen cut the deficit to 43-36 with 12:32 remaining.

A jumper and 3-pointer by Toft pushed the lead to 48-36 at the 11:16 mark before the Braves rallied again as Aho scored inside, hit a 3-pointer and made two jumpers. A layup by Pihlaja pulled Menahga to within 53-47 with 6:37 left.

Nevis regained control as a three-point play by Stenberg off a steal and a basket off a rebound by Chase made it 59-49 with 4:27 to go.

A layup by Pihlaja and a basket off a rebound by Ben Skoog kept Menahga within 62-53 with 3:48 remaining before the Tigers sealed the win by making eight free throws. Chase hit four free throws and Anglin and Toft scored inside as Nevis held a 74-57 advantage with 1:24 to play.

Pihlaja and Aho capped off their senior seasons by hitting two free throws apiece to conclude the scoring for the Braves.

Aho had 23 points and nine rebounds, Pihlaja scored 14 points, and Gruchow had 12 points and seven rebounds as Menahga ended the season with a 15-11 record.

Toft scored 19 points, Anglin had 17 points and eight rebounds, Schroeder had 12 points and 11 rebounds, Chase scored 12 points, and Stenberg had 10 points and six assists to lead a balanced attack for Nevis, which improved to 21-6.

"It was definitely a battle all the way through. I was very happy with the way we came out and got things going. After a shaky minute or two, we settled down and were able to forge a double-digit lead in the first half," said Nevis head coach Scott Kramer. "We were able to pull away late as we hit some free throws and scored off of their full-court pressure. I was pleased with the way everyone stepped up and gave effort. We had a lot of good things happen by a number of players and that is what needs to happen at tournament time."

MENAHGA: Aho 10 2-3 23, Tolkkinen 1 2-2 4, B. Skoog 1 0-0 2, Pihlaja 5 2-4 14, Gruchow 4 4-9 12, M Skoog 1 1-2 3, Dormanen 1 0-0 3, W. Skoog 0 0-0 0, Schwartz 0 0-0 0, Luedke 0 0-0 0, Junes 0 0-0 0. Totals: 23 for 50 (FG), 11 for 20 (FT).

NEVIS: Schroeder 4 3-7 12, Stenberg 4 2-3 10, Chase 4 4-4 12, Rehkamp 0 0-0 0, Toft 9 0-0 19, Anglin 5 7-11 17, Gooch 3 1-2 7. Totals: 29 (FG), 17 for 27 (FT).

Halftime: Nevis 35, Menahga 26. Three-point field goals: Aho 1, Pihlaja 2, Dormanen 1, Schroeder 1, Toft 1. Total fouls: Menahga 17, Nevis 16. Fouled out: Gruchow, Rehkamp. Rebounds: Menahga 30 (Aho 9, Gruchow 7, Pihlaja 4, Tolkkinen 3, B. Skoog 3, M. Skoog 2, Dormanen 1, Luedke 1); Nevis (Schroeder 11, Anglin 8, Toft 5). Assists: Menahga 6 (Pihlaja 2, Aho 1, Tolkkinen 1, M. Skoog 1, B. Skoog 1); Nevis (Stenberg 6, Schroeder 3). Steals: Menahga 8 (Aho 2, M. Skoog 2, B. Skoog 2, Gruchow 1, Dormanen 1); Nevis (Stenberg 2, Schroeder 2). Blocked shots: Menahga 3 (Gruchow 3). Turnovers: Menahga 15.

Braves eliminate Pirates

Pihlaja's 28 points, Aho's 17 points and eight rebounds, and Gruchow's 17 points and seven rebounds led the Braves to an 87-65 win over Verndale in the tournament opener last Monday night at Menahga.

Caleb Burczyk scored 20 points and Zack Meidinger added 16 points for the No. 11-seeded Pirates, who ended the season with a 2-24 record.

VERNDALE: Burczyk 20, Meidinger 16, Motschenbacher 9, Ehrmantraut 6, Denny 6, Perius 3, Schmitz 3, Booth 2.

MENAHGA: Pihlaja 12 1-3 28, M. Aho 9 7-10 27, Gruchow 5 7-12 17, B. Skoog 3 0-0 6, Dormanen 2 0-0 5, Junes 1 0-0 2, Schwartz 0 1-2 1, Tolkkinen 0 1-4 1, W. Skoog 0 0-2 0, R. Aho 0 0-0 0, Luedke 0 0-0 0, M. Skoog 0 0-0 0. Totals: 32 for 61 (FG), 17 for 33 (FT).

Halftime: Menahga 44, Verndale 26. Three-point field goals: Meidinger 3, Ehrmantraut 2, Perius 1, Pihlaja 3, Aho 2, Dormanen 1. Rebounds: Menahga 33 (M. Aho 8, Gruchow 7, Tolkkinen 4, Pihlaja 3, Luedke 3, B. Skoog 2, W. Skoog 2, Dormanen 1, Junes 1, Schwartz 1, M. Skoog 1). Assists: Menahga 7 (Pihlaja 2, Tolkkinen 2, M. Aho 1, Gruchow 1, B. Skoog 1). Steals: Menahga 14 (Gruchow 3, M. Aho 2, Dormanen 2, M. Skoog 2, Pihlaja 1, B. Skoog 1, Schwartz 1, Tolkkinen 1, Luedke 1). Blocked shots: Menahga 2 (Tolkkinen 1, Luedke 1). Team fouls: Menahga 18. Fouled out: Gruchow. Turnovers: Menahga 10.

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