Blooming Prairie Awesome Blossoms boys basketball team edges Kingsland 74-72 in Section 1A semifinals Saturday

In a game you heard Saturday on AM 1480 KAUS, the Blooming Prairie Awesome Blossoms boys basketball team, ranked No. 6 in the state in the last Class A poll and winners of 10 in a row took on the Kingsland Knights, winners of seven in a row and nine out of their last 10 in the Section 1A semifinals at the Mayo Civic Center Auditorium in Rochester, and in a see-saw battle in front of a raucous and near-capacity crowd, it was the Blossoms holding off the Knights 74-72.

Kingsland jumped out to an 8-0 lead before the Blossoms countered with a 13-4 run to take their first lead of the game at 13-12.  The back-and-forth nature of the game then set in, as neither team held a lead larger than three points for the rest of the half, with the Knights holding a slight 36-34 lead at the halftime break.

Kingsland then pushed their lead to four early in the second half at 42-38, only to see the Blossoms come back with an 8-0 run to take a 46-42 lead.  Blooming Prairie then went on a 16-6 run to boost their lead to six at 54-48, and they were eventually able to increase their lead to seven at 68-61 late in the half.  But, after Zack Hein of the Blossoms drained two free throws with 1:50 left to make the score 72-65, the Knights quickly showed they they would not go quietly as a three-point play from forward Courtland Drury-Deboer with 1:08 to play cut the Blooming Prairie lead to 72-68.  Blossoms guard Brady Kittleson was then fouled and made one of two free throws to increase the lead to 73-68, but a foul was then called on the Blossoms with :56 seconds left, sending guard Jayden Brink, Kingsland’s top average scorer to the free throw line.  Brink, who was fouled in the act of shooting drained both free throws to cut the BP lead to 73-70, and after the Blossoms missed a driving contested layup at the other end, the Knights quickly heaved the ball downcourt for a layup for guard Ayden Howard to cut the Blossoms lead to one at 73-72.  The Blossoms then quickly broke a backcourt press applied by the Knights and had a wide-open layup at the other end, but it was negated by a traveling call, giving the ball back to the Knights with :36 seconds left.  Here the Blossoms defense stepped to the fore as on the ensuing Kingsland possession, forward Max Erdman had a 3-pointer from the right wing blocked by Blooming Prairie’s Gabe Hein, and although the Knights came up with the loose ball after the block, a 14-foot jumper in the lane from Brink was no good, and Blossoms guard Gabe Staloch corralled the rebound with :05.8 seconds left.  Staloch proceeded to make one of two free throws to make the score 74-72, and after a Kingsland timeout, guard Kaleem Reiland received the inbounds pass and sprinted up the right sideline into the frontcourt, but as he was heading into the right corner, Zack Hein was able to poke the ball loose, and his steal ran out the rest of the time on the clock to give Blooming Prairie the win.

Brady Kittleson led the Blossoms in scoring Saturday with 28 points, including four three pointers, Gabe and Zack Hein each scored 19 points apiece, Gabe Staloch chipped in five points, and Cooper Cooke tallied three points in a win that moves the Blossoms to 28-2 on the season, and they will now play No. 6 seed Goodhue for the Section 1A championship at the Mayo Civic Center Arena Thursday evening, with tip-off at 6 p.m.  You’ll hear the game on AM 1480 KAUS, and the I Heart Radio and apps, with the pre-game show getting underway at 5:40 p.m.