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Tigers advance to second round of playoffs

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The ninth-seeded Pine River-Backus Tigers boys’ basketball team upset No. 8 East Central 55-46 in the first round of the East Subsection 5A playoffs on Monday, March 4, in Sandstone.

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The Tigers, 2-25 overall, advance to the subsection quarterfinals against top-ranked Barnum at 7 p.m. on Thursday, March 7. East Central finishes the season 1-22 overall.

Beau Howard scored 18 points and Zach Stuss added 16 points for the Tigers, who were ahead 25-18 at the half. Howard also had five assists.

East Central had a better field goal percentage, but PR-B made 17 of 23 shots (73 percent) from the free throw line. East Central made 26 of 44 shots (59 percent) from the field and six of 18 (33 percent) from the line. The Tigers made 13 of 40 shots (33 percent) from the floor, including four of 12 on 3-point attempts.

East Central was led in scoring by Demetri Nordgaard and Danny Dronen who both had 11 and Kaleb McCulloch with 10. Others who scored for PR-B were Cody Mager with eight, Hank Raph with seven and Henry Krecklau with four.

Walker-H-A 82, Tigers 46

PR-B was defeated for the second time this season by the Walker-Hackensack-Akeley Wolves 82-46 on Friday, March 1, in the regular season finale.

W-H-A started the game off on a positive note on their first possession. They moved the ball around with quick passing, which forced the defense of PR-B to rotate to cover the open player. With the Tigers scrambling defensively, the Wolves found an open player underneath the rim. PR-B was able to prevent him from scoring the basket, but did pick up a foul. W-H-A made good on both attempts.

Krecklau was able to hit an open jump shot to put points on the board for the home team. Struss also made a basket on a drive to the hoop. Points would prove to be difficult to come by for PR-B. The Wolves’ defense forced the Tigers into difficult, contested shots on virtually every possession.

Despite the tough defense played by the Tigers, W-H-A was able to take advantage of offensive rebounds to keep possession of the ball on their offensive zone. Often they were able to score on the second opportunity.

PR-B was able to keep the game close early, after a 3-pointer from the top of the key and Struss made a basket and had a chance at a 3-point, but came up short on the free throw attempt.

Just as the home team appeared to be making it a close game, the Wolves used the long-range shot to get momentum going in their favor. On the next several possessions, W-H-A hit two successive 3-pointers and a field goal.

The Wolves assumed a 41-23 halftime lead. The second half would prove to be exactly similar as the first-half score was duplicated by both teams to make the final 82-46.

It was a difficult regular season for the young PR-B squad. It was expected to be a subpar season with the only players having serious varsity experience – Howard and Struss. Krecklau then missing half of the season with an injured arm. The team did play fundamentally sound basketball throughout the season, playing an unselfish offensive while maintaining an aggressive defense.

Scoring Summary: Howard led the way with 22 points for the Tigers, going seven of 14 from two-point range and five of six from the free throw line. Howard also led the way with five of the teams eight assists. Konrad Beuckers had nine points, going 4 of 10 from the field, with one 3-pointer. Krecklau had six points and two rebounds. Mager and Struss each contributed four points. Struss also had eight rebounds while Raph added a free throw.

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