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Defense leads Tigers into 5A semifinal round

Menahga's Owen Anderson (23) went up to block a shot by Nevis' Jack Landquist during Thursday night's game. Vance Carlson / Enterprise

For the third time this season, the Nevis boys basketball team defeated conference rival Walker-Hackensack-Akeley.

The Tigers won the first two games by scores of 67-44 and 66-45 during the regular season en route to winning the Northland Conference title with a perfect 14-0 record.

Nevis' 52-35 win over W-H-A Saturday night at Pequot Lakes sent the Tigers to the Section 5A North championship game. Nevis, the top seed in the North half of the section and the No. 2-rated team in the latest state Class A poll, played No. 3 Verndale in the North final Tuesday night at Pequot Lakes. Verndale eliminated No. 2 McGregor 61-41 in Saturday night's other playoff game at Pequot Lakes. Browerville/Eagle Valley (the No. 1 seed in the South) and Kimball (the No. 2 seed in the South) also won games Saturday night and played in the South final Tuesday night at Little Falls. Those winners advance to the Section 5A title game.

Nevis' defense was again the key as the Tigers extended their winning streak to 21 games in a row by limiting the opponent to 50 points or less for the fourth consecutive game.

Kevin Smith hit three 3-pointers for W-H-A, but the Tigers led 28-19 at the half.

Nevis held a 39-31 lead before going on a 13-2 run to seal the win. Chase's three-point play with 5:22 to play pushed the lead to 42-31 before Chase hit four free throws and Zach Henry made three free throws in the final 3:03 to seal the win. Nevis made 10 of 13 free throws down the stretch.

Griffin Chase scored 21 points and Michael Landquist added 15 points to lead the Tigers. Tom Wormley and Chase pulled down five rebounds each while Jack Landquist had four rebounds. Chase also had five steals and two assists, Wormley blocked five shots and Michael Landquist had three assists as Nevis improved to 26-1.

Nate Armstrong scored 14 points and Smith added 11 points before fouling out to lead the No. 5-seeded Wolves, who closed the season with a 16-12 record.

"It was a back-and-forth battle as both teams are more than familiar with each other," said Nevis head coach Scott Kramer. "Smith hit three 3s to keep the pace early, but we were able to hold them to 19 points in the first half. The second half was more of the same. I thought we made the most of our free-throw shooting down the stretch as we were able to extend the lead late and force them to attempt some quick shots offensively. Our defense was again the key as we held them to two halves under 20 points."

W-H-A: Armstrong 14, Smith 11, Ginos 4, Anderson 4, Hed 2, Taylor 2.

NEVIS: Dudley 1 0-0 3, Chase 7 6-9 21, J. Landquist 2 2-2 6, M. Landquist 6 3-5 15, Wormley 2 0-0 4, Tinnes 0 0-0 0, Henry 0 3-4 3, Soldwisch 0 0-0 0, Kramer 0 0-0 0, DeWulf 0 0-0 0, Peet 0 0-0 0. Totals: 18 for 36 (FG), 14 for 20 (FT).

Halftime: Nevis 28, W-H-A 19. Three-pointers: Dudley 1, Chase 1. Team fouls: W-H-A 17, Nevis 11. Fouled out: Smith.

Tigers oust Braves

A 15-2 run to close the first half and a 25-9 run at the start of the second half powered the Tigers to a 60-31 win over No. 8 Menahga in a Section 5A North quarterfinal game Thursday night at the Tiger Arena.

After Menahga's Kirby Hrdlicka opened the game with a jumper, a layup by Chase, a basket off a rebound by Michael Landquist, a 3-pointer by Andrew Dudley and a 3-pointer by Henry gave the Tigers a 12-4 lead with 12:20 to play in the first half.

Damon Howard's 3-pointer, Hrdlicka's layup and Luke Wurdock's basket off a rebound kept the Braves within 18-11 at the 6:11 mark before a 3-pointer by Chase, two inside baskets by Wormley, a dunk off a steal by Chase, a jumper by Jack Landquist and a layup by Chase gave Nevis a 33-13 advantage at the break.

Wurdock opened the second half with a jumper before three layups and a putback by Chase, a jumper and layup off a steal by Michael Landquist, and a 3-pointer by Dudley gave the Tigers a 48-20 lead with 9:07 to play.

A layup by Charlie Hodge and a jumper by Wurdock made it 50-24 with 6:52 left before the Tigers used a three-point play and putback by Jack Landquist and a 3-pointer by Caden Kramer to build a 58-24 advantage with 5:07 left. Anthony Wurdock's layup and a 3-pointer by Hodge capped off the scoring for Menahga.

Howard (7) and Luke Wurdock (6) combined for 13 points for the Braves, who ended the season with a 12-15 record.

Chase scored 21 points while Jack Landquist (9), Dudley (8) and Michael Landquist (8) combined for 25 points for the Tigers, who defeated Menahga 56-34 on Feb. 28. Michael Landquist had six rebounds, three assists and three steals while Chase and Jack Landquist grabbed five rebounds each. Chase also had two assists while Wormley led the Tigers with four blocked shots.

"We got off to a much better start against Menahga this time around as we were able to get to the rim and create some easy buckets with our pressure," said Kramer, whose team held a 23-11 halftime lead in the first meeting against the Braves. "Menahga wanted to slow the game down as much as possible, but once we built an early double-digit lead, that wasn't really going to work. We had a nice team effort and our overall team defense stood out again. It was a good way for our seniors (Chase, Dudley and Logan Tinnes) to go out on our home court."

MENAHGA: D. Howard 3 0-1 7, Pietila 1 0-0 2, L. Wurdock 3 0-0 6, Hrdlicka 2 0-0 4, Matson 0 0-0 0, A. Wurdock 1 1-2 3, Berttunen 0 0-1 0, Hodge 2 0-0 5, J. Howard 0 1-2 1, Aho 1 1-1 3. Totals: 13 (FG), 3 for 7 (FT).

NEVIS: Dudley 2 2-2 8, Chase 8 4-4 21, J. Landquist 3 3-3 9, M. Landquist 4 0-0 8, Wormley 3 0-0 6, Tinnes 1 0-0 2, Henry 1 0-0 3, Spain-Brist 0 0-0 0, Soldwisch 0 0-0 0, Kramer 1 0-0 3, DeWulf 0 0-0 0, Peet 0 0-0 0, Redmond 0 0-0 0. Totals: 23 for 49 (FG), 9 for 11 (FT).

Halftime: Nevis 33, Menahga 13. Three-pointers: D. Howard 1, Hodge 1, Dudley 2, Chase 1, Henry 1, Kramer 1. Team fouls: Menahga 13, Nevis 11.