Morris Area/Chokio-Alberta could not defeat Benson for a third time this season, falling to the Braves 68-53 in the Section 6AA South semi-final game Saturday at St. John's University.
The Tigers came into the game with a little better West Central Conference South record (8-3) compared to Benson (6-5), but the Braves brought in a better overall mark. Benson averaged about 10 more points per game, but the Tigers allowed about 10 fewer points per game.
As the No. 3 seed, Benson had made quick work of No. 6 seed St. John's Prep, winning by 17 points while the No. 2 seeded Tigers needed overtime to win by a point against No. 7 Eden Valley-Watkins.
The Braves advanced to play No. 1 Litchfield at 6 p.m. Tuesday at St. John's University in Collegeville, while the Tigers' season came to an end.
"The game started as if it would be a close one as the lead went back and forth early," said coach Mark Torgerson. "The Tigers had their last lead at 9-8 with just over 13 minutes to go in the first half and then the flood gates opened.
"The Braves came out on fire as they hit eight of their 11 three-point shots in the first half to take control of the game," explained Torgerson. "The Braves put up 41 first-half points, led by 15 points apiece from Brave guards Matt Ahrndt and Logan Connelly. Both connected on three three pointers in the first half to open up the lead for good over the Tigers."
In the first half the Braves shot a sizzling 56 percent from the field and 73 percent from behind the arc. The Tigers, meanwhile, shot just 35 percent from the field and were just one for eight from three-point land.
"The Tigers tried several defenses, but the Braves' hot shooting was working against anything the Tigers threw at them.
"The Tigers started the second half with a much better intensity and got themselves back in the ball game," added Torgerson. "The Tigers used a 3/4-court press to try and swing momentum in their favor. When Logan Manska hit a three pointer with 10:21 to go in the ballgame it made the score 48-38 in favor of Benson. Following a Benson timeout, however, the Braves went on an 8-0 run to basically put the game out of reach.
"The Tigers ran out of gas and the Braves spread the ball around to wear the Tigers down."
For the game Benson shot 53 percent to the Tigers' 37 percent. Benson had a 41-28 edge on the boards, as well.
The Tigers' Logan Manska scored 11 points, Brody Bahr scored a season-high 10, and Lincoln Berget and Riley Arndt both scored nine points.
The Tigers got a team high six assists from guard Chandler Erickson with Jacob Torgerson adding four assists.
Austin Dierks had a team-high eight rebounds.
Connelly scored a game-high 23 points and Sam Peterson was strong inside, with 14 points, 13 rebounds and five steals. Ahrndt scored 16 points.
Benson 41 27 -- 68
Morris/C-A 21 32 -- 53
MORRIS/CHOKIO-ALBERTA - 21-57 FG (5-20 3-pt); 6-13 FT; 27 rebounds; 22 fouls; Scoring: Brody Bahr 10, Riley Arndt 9, Lincoln Berget 9, Logan Manska 11, Jacob Torgerson 3, Chandler Erickson 4, Austin Dierks 7; 3-point shots: Manska 2, Bahr 1, Arndt 1, Torgerson 1; Rebounds: Dierks 8, Berget 4, Arndt 4, Tyler Henrichs 2, Manska 2, Torgerson 2, Erickson 2, Bahr 1, Sam Mattson 1, John Tiernan 1; Assists: Erickson 6, Torgerson 4, Bahr 1; Steals: Arndt 3, Bahr 1, Berget 1
BENSON - 25-47 FG (8-14 3-pt); 10-25 FT; 41 rebounds; 15 fouls; Scoring: Carl Hoffman 1, Colin Ose 4, Matt Ahrndt 16, Logan Connelly 23, Sam Peterson 14, Daniel Lee 4, Jacob Goff 6; 3-point shots: Ahrndt 3, Connelly 3, Peterson 1, Lee 1; Rebound leaders: Peterson 13; Assist leaders: Peterson 5; Steal leaders: Peterson 3