Head coach Scott Kramer and the Nevis boys basketball team prepared all season for a Section 5A playoff rematch with Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa.

Last year, the Tigers defeated B-B-E 61-58 at Wadena to capture the Section 5A West title. Nevis’ bid to qualify for the state Class A tournament was denied when the COVID-19 pandemic canceled the Section 5A championship game between the Tigers and Hinckley-Finlayson.

Missing out on the chance to play at state provided incentive for the Tigers to get back to the section finals and qualify for the Class A tournament this season. Defeating B-B-E was a main step in accomplishing that goal.

The Tigers hosted the Section 5A West title game by earning the No. 1 seed in the West. B-B-E entered as the No. 2 seed. Nevis capitalized on that homecourt advantage to fulfill that mission, trailing only three times in a 59-50 victory at the Tiger Arena on Wednesday, March 24.

“This was an outstanding game from start to finish. Both teams played well defensively and there were limited turnovers. We were able to get out to a lead that we never really relinquished all night,” said Kramer. “It was a great win for us as we now get back to the 5A title game.”

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A layup by Derek Lindow was countered with a layup by B-B-E’s Ryan Schwinghammer as the game was tied at 2-2. Ty Warrington’s pair of 3-pointers and layup and a jumper by Lindow gave the Tigers a 12-6 advantage with 11:20 to play in the first half.

B-B-E responded to take a 15-14 lead at the 8:04 mark before Eddie Kramer hit a 3-pointer to put the Tigers in front 17-15 at the 7:45 mark. Back-to-back layups by Luke Dingmann gave the Jaguars a 19-17 edge with 6:50 to play in the first half before Kramer hit another 3-pointer to give Nevis a 20-19 advantage at the 6:32 mark. After another layup by Dingmann put B-B-E ahead 21-20 with 5:33 left, Kramer connected on another 3-pointer, Lindow hit a jumper and JP Benson scored off a rebound as Nevis led 27-21 with 2:04 to play in the opening half.

The Tigers would not relinquish that lead.

After a layup by Peyton Winter made it 27-23 at the intermission, the Tigers opened the second half with a 3-pointer by Warrington and layups by Lindow and Cain Mitchell to extend the lead to 34-23 with 15:46 to play. Layups by Warrington and Mitchell and jumpers by Kramer and Lindow gave the Tigers their largest lead of the game at 47-34 with 7:13 left.

A jumper by Kramer and layups by Mitchell and Warrington kept the lead at 53-42 with 3:13 to go. Warrington, Jack McNamee and Kramer hit two free throws apiece in the final 1:08 to seal the win and send the Tigers back to the Section 5A championship game.

Kramer finished with 19 points, Warrington scored 17 points and Lindow finished with 10 points as the Tigers improved to 19-2. McNamee had five rebounds and joined Kramer and Joe Houchin with two steals. Lindow dished out five assists, Warrington had three assists and Kramer had two assists to go along with four rebounds. Nevis made six 3-pointers in the game while B-B-E didn’t make any 3-point shots.

Dingmann (17) and Schwinghammer (12) hit double figures for the Jaguars, who ended the season at 16-5.

“Our game plan was to limit their ability to get the ball into the lane, which would cause problems with fouls as well as their ability to dump it down or kick it out for 3-point looks. We did a great job of mixing up our defense and keeping them out of the lane. We also did not give up a made 3-pointer, as we did an excellent job of contesting shots from the perimeter. We also knew that we couldn't expect to win if we turned the ball over, and we did a nice job of that. Our big three also controlled the game offensively when Lindow, Kramer, and Warrington combined for 25 of our 27 first half points,” said Kramer. “I think the turning point was the run we made to start the second half as our lead went from 4 to double digits. We never really looked back as our defense dug in and we went 11 for 12 from the line to keep us in the lead. We did have some foul trouble down the stretch, but our ability to control the ball and the pace limited their possessions as we closed out the game.”

Nevis will play Upsala for the section title on Friday (March 26) at Wadena with a 7 p.m. tipoff. Upsala, the No. 2 seed from the East, defeated No. 4 Barnum 66-56 to advance to the championship game. The Tigers defeated Upsala 74-49 on March 4. Upsala will enter the title game with a 15-6 record.

The winner advances to the state Class A tournament, which will begin on March 30 with quarterfinal games at sites to be determined after the eight section finals. Target Center will host the state Class A semifinals on April 7 and the championship game on April 10.

“It is a great feeling to get back to the 5A title game, especially after the way last season ended. It shouldn't take much motivation for our guys to be ready, considering what is at stake and that we were denied this opportunity last season,” said Kramer. “We are playing against Upsala, a team that we defeated this season once already, but they had a couple of players out for that game, and so we are going into the game as if it is a new opponent. Upsala has some really good guard play and they also have some perimeter shooting that can keep them in any game. It's just that time of year where you have to play well in order to have a chance to advance, and hopefully we are ready to go.”

BELGRADE-BROOTEN-ELROSA: Pieper 3 3-4 9, VanBeck 3 0-0 6, Winter 1 0-0 2, Dingmann 6 5-5 17, Schwinghammer 5 2-2 12, Kampsen 2 0-0 4. Totals: 20 (FG), 10 for 11 (FT).
NEVIS: Warrington 6 2-2 17, Lindow 5 0-0 10, Kramer 6 4-4 19, Mitchell 3 0-0 6, McNamee 0 4-4 4, Houchin 0 1-2 1, Benson 1 0-0 2. Totals: 21 (FG), 11 for 12 (FT).
Halftime: Nevis 27, B-B-E 23. Three-pointers: Warrington 3, Kramer 3. Team fouls: B-B-E 11, Nevis 14.