The Morris Area boys basketball team held down the West Central South's top scorer in the first half, then put the clamps on the rest of the Benson Braves to win its Section 6AA West semifinals game 78-62 Saturday night at the University of Minnesota, Morris' P.E. Center.
The top-seed Tigers improved to 22-4 this season and will play No. 3-seed Staples-Motley for the subsection championship Tuesday at the P.E. Center.
Lincoln Arnold led the Tigers with 20 points, including back-to-back baskets with 2-1/2 minutes left and four free throws down the stretch that iced the victory.
Jackson Henrich scored 16 points, Corey Nohl added 14 points and Chris Scott scored eight straight Morris Area points to open the second half and finished with 10 points.
The Tigers squelched Benson's all-time leading scorer, Aaron Lindahl, in the first half, holding the 28-points-per-game scorer to just one free throw late in the half. Morris Area led 31-26 at the break.
Lindahl found his touch in the second half, scoring 24 of his game-high 25 points in the second half. But the Tigers held the rest of the Braves to just 12 points after halftime. The Braves, who lost to Morris Area three times this season, had an eight-game winning streak snapped and finished the year 16-10.
Scott opened the second half with eight points in the first five minutes, and Nohl's basket with 14 minutes left put the Tigers up by six, 41-35.
Benson rebounded behind Lindahl's six points and Brennan Kent's 3-pointer. Cody Jaeger's free throw with 9:25 to play tied the game at 45.
But the Tigers scored eight straight points to retake the lead, and held the Braves scoreless over a four-minute stretch. After Benson's Dan Martin hit two free throws to pull the Braves within six points, the Tigers answered with with a 9-2 run that put the game out of reach. Arnold scored on a layup, then stole the ball and drove for another basket that put the Tigers' lead at 13 points with 2:37 left.
Morris Area then hit 10 of 14 free throws over the next two minutes to stave off Benson's attempts to rally.