The traveling Pine River-Backus team played well, but came up short against the Menahga Braves in a 65-49 loss on Thursday, Jan. 31.
The Tigers were able to play a strong game for much of the first half, and appeared to be headed for an upset before ultimately falling short. The game saw many lead changes early in the game until Menahga made a run before the half and never again relinquished the lead.
The Braves started off the game with an exciting dunk by Tanner Schuertz. The play, which started with a steal at midcourt, was a three-point play as Schuertz made the free throw after being fouled while making the basket. It was the first of many points for Tanner, who finished with an impressive 38 points for the game.
PR-B was able to answer back on a hard-fought basket inside by freshman forward, Zach Struss. After a strong showing on defense, with several contested shots, the Tigers brought the ball back into their offensive zone, where senior guard, Beau Howard made a basket on a drive up the middle of the court.
Despite the fact that PR-B would come up short in the game, its defense was extraordinary. The Tigers refused to give up easy baskets, often contesting four or five shots, frustrating the Menahga team early. One such example was on the following possession. PR-B made life difficult on Schuertz, creating a jump ball situation instead of giving up an easy basket.
The Braves would score the next points on a shot from behind the three-point arc to retake the lead, 6-4. The Tigers tied up the game on the following possession, when Howard turned a steal into a fast break and an easy basket for the Tigers. PR-B had an opportunity to take a lead, but came up short on two shots from behind the arc. Menahga was unable to make a basket, but was able to score a point from the free throw line.
The Tigers took the lead back on a great pass from Howard to Saul Sasse. Howard was at the top of the key and he found Sasse alone under the basket. Sasse had no trouble putting up a layup. On the following possession for PR-B, Howard once again found a player under the basket, but unable to find a handle on the ball, it slipped out to Sasse under the basket for another bucket for a 10-7 lead.
PR-B had several chances to extend the lead further, but had a couple turnovers at the offensive end, before Howard added a point from the free throw line. Unfortunately, with 9:06 left in the first half, a four-point lead would prove to be the high water mark for the Tigers. Menahga would go on a 14-2 run over the next several minutes started by a basket and two free throws to tie the game at eleven apiece.
Howard created a steal and passed ahead to T.J. Lukanen for a basket, but the Braves would score the next eight points. After tying it back up, Menahga would make a basket and an impressive six for six from the free throw line over the next several minutes.
Sophomore Henry Krecklau would attempt to get the Tigers back in the game with a 10-foot jump shot but the Tigers trailed 25-15. After a couple more baskets by Menahga, PR-B did go on a small run with the games next five points coming from Struss. The final basket of the half went in favor of Menahga, as they went into the locker room with a 27-20 lead.
The Braves clearly decided to get the ball to Schuertz, who would score 23 of his 38 points in the second half. The Tigers had no answer for his inside play, which helped Menahga get some breathing room early in the second half. The Braves would go on to outscore the Tigers 38-29 in the second half to widen the lead.
Howard had a good second half for PR-B, scoring 16 of his 21 after half time, but it would not be enough for the Tigers.
Scoring summary: Howard led the way for PR-B with 21 points, uncharacteristically, only one from the free throw line, and none from behind the arc. Zach Struss had 11 points and Henry Krecklau added six points. Konrad Beuckers had five, Sasse four, and T.J. Lukanen had two.
Park Rapids 78, Tigers 26
It was a game to forget for the Tigers in Park Rapids on Tuesday, Jan. 29. The Panthers handily defeated PR-B 78-26. The game got out of hand early in the first half and the Tigers were unable to recover. The story of the game for the home team was the extremely tough defense for the Panthers, which swarmed the visiting team and held them to only four successful field goals in the first half and five in the second half
In the first half, PR-B was unable to execute their offense. The Panthers chose to make life difficult for the Tigers leading scorer, Howard. It was clear that Park Rapids decided that if they would get beat, it would be by the other players on PR-B. The strategy was successful, as Howard was unable to make a basket from the floor all game, only scoring one point on a successful free throw attempt.
In fact, the only player to make a shot from the field in the first half was Struss, who would score 12 points in the game, 10 of which occurred in the first half. The Tigers would find themselves in a huge deficit at halftime, down by a score of 48-14.
Park Rapids found success in the first half from a variety of players. The Panthers played unselfishly, getting baskets from seven players in the first half. Park Rapids was able to score points from within the lane, mid-range jump shots, and long-range baskets.
The second half was much of the same. It was a game that the Tigers would like to forget, as they were outscored 30-12 in the second half as well, to lose by a wide margin, 78-26. Park Rapids would finish out the game with points by an astounding eleven different players. Four players found themselves with double digit scoring, yet no player topped 20 points. The Panthers were able to find a balance offensively, sharing the ball and doing most of their scoring through passing to find the open player.
Scoring summary: Struss led the way for the Tigers, scoring 12 points, which included the only successful baskets for PR-B in the first half, when he scored eight points from the court and two more from the foul line. Henry Krecklau contributed four points, with a basket and was 2/2 from the foul line. Cody Mager had three, Hank Raph and Konrad Beuckers each had two and Beau Howard had a free throw.