ARLINGTON – There are two seniors on the roster for the Lester Prairie boys basketball team this season. They both chose the right time to have one of their best games of the season as Gavin Eckstein and Tanner Scheevel helped lead the Bulldogs to an impressive 66-55 win over the BOLD Warriors Thursday night thanks to a dominant second-half performance.
“Credit to Tanner playing through his injury and Gavin was super aggressive getting to the rim and getting rebounds,” Lester Prairie coach Andrew Dahl said. “They weren’t ready to be done with their season. They really brought a little extra for us tonight on the court and in the locker room. It was fun to have them leading us and see the other guys follow their lead.”
The Bulldogs struggled at times in the first half but as much as BOLD was in control, Lester Prairie trailed by just five at the half. The Warriors scored the first five of the second half to push their lead to 10 but the Bulldogs answered immediately with an 8-0 run themselves to get back within two thanks to 3-pointers from Tanner Scheevel and Trever Schauer.
“We got some good guys that if we need to make a play, they can go and get one for us,” Dahl said. “I feel like we kind of have the mindset now that we can handle some adversity where earlier in the year we would kind of panic a bit. Now I think we have some mental toughness to withstand a run and make a run of our own.”
Lester Prairie turned up the pressure with their defense in the second half throughout. They held the Warriors to just 20 points in the second half including a six-minute stretch without a field goal.
“We tried some zone defense and we’re not really a zone team. We just tried mixing things up to take away their ball screens and dump-ins. Our man-to-man in the second half really got us some energy with some tips and steals and that got us rolling. We hit some shots and that got us really going.”
A three-point play by Alex Hodny tied the game at 41 for the Bulldogs. Schauer gave the Bulldogs the lead with a three-point play of his own and Lester Prairie led 54-50 with just under seven minutes to go,
“A lot of big performances from a lot of guys,” Dahl said. “I thought everybody really made some good plays for us. It was a good team effort by a lot of different guys tonight which is fun to see.”
The Bulldogs would seal the game holding the Warriors to just five points in the final seven minutes of the game to keep their season alive.
With the win, Lester Prairie advances to the Section 2A North Championship game where they will take on No. 4 Cedar Mountain. The Cougars knocked off top-seeded Sleepy Eye St. Mary’s in the other semifinal game. The Bulldogs defeated Cedar Mountain 77-60 earlier this season but Dahl knows how much a team can change throughout the season.
“They shoot the ball well and run the floor,” he said. “We did see them early in the year but it seems like they’ve improved their game since we saw them. It should be a fun matchup.”
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