Fond du Lac falls in state boys basketball tourney
MINNEAPOLIS -- A miserable showing at last year's state tournament propelled a motivated Charlie Krambeer onto the Williams Arena floor Thursday morning, and Fond du Lac Ojibwe was on the receiving end of Krambeer's atonement.
MINNEAPOLIS - A miserable showing at last year’s state tournament propelled a motivated Charlie Krambeer onto the Williams Arena floor Thursday morning, and Fond du Lac Ojibwe was on the receiving end of Krambeer’s atonement.
The Rushford-Peterson senior invoked memories of Michael Jordan’s I-can’t-believe-it shoulder shrug from Game 1 of the 1992 NBA Finals by making 6 of 7 3-pointers en route to 28 first-half points that helped the top-seeded Trojans rout the unseeded Ogichidaag 105-58 in a Class A quarterfinal at the Minnesota high school boys basketball tournament.
Krambeer finished with 33 points on 12-for-17 shooting after spending most of the second half on the bench.
“Everything I was (shooting) was going in,” he said sheepishly. “Everything was clicking.”
Krambeer totaled a meager 11 points in three tournament games a year ago for runner-up Rushford-Peterson.
“Last year he was a stand-around 3-point guy and you could get to him,” veteran Trojans coach Thomas Vix said. “Over the summer, he really worked hard to make himself a total player. He’s earned it.”
The seven 3-pointers from Krambeer were three short of a single-game tournament record, but he played just 23 minutes as Rushford-Peterson (30-1) bulldozed its way to a 61-27 halftime lead.
“Every time Charlie shoots it, I expect it to go in, I’ll be honest,” Vix said.
Fond du Lac (18-13) was looking to build on last year’s state tournament breakthrough, and the Ogichidaag entered Thursday playing their best basketball of the season. They were a middling .500 (12-12) on Feb. 13 before winning their next six games as 6-foot-7 junior Justin Brown emerged, senior point guard Dexter Delille turned into a triple-double machine and a democratic approach to sharing the ball was rekindled.
All of it, plus a rabid fan base that invaded Williams, had the Ogichidaag thinking upset vs. Rushford-Peterson. The Trojans’ vaunted full-court press, though, disrupted Fond du Lac’s up-tempo approach. The flustered Ogichidaag turned the ball over 12 times in the first half.
“That hampered us a little bit because we couldn’t run,” Fond du Lac coach Earl Otis said. “It cramped our style.”
Combined with Rushford-Peterson’s can’t-miss shooting, it was a recipe for disaster. The Trojans were 41-for-64 (64.1 percent) from the field, including a blistering 16-for-27 (59.3) from the 3-point line.
“We had our hand up and they still shot right in our face,” Otis said. “We saw why they’re the No. 1 team in the state.”
Cameron Thompson and Jordan Diver led the Ogichidaag with 14 points apiece. Delille, who does a little bit of everything, added 13. A pair of 3s from Diver kept it close early, but what’s a team to do when its opponent is all but immune from missing shots? Krambeer, for one, had 20 points in the game’s first 9:44 and made 10 of 13 field-goal attempts before halftime.
“It was just an amazing shooting performance,” Thompson said. “He’s a great player and I give him a lot of credit.”
Fond du Lac, which last year was believed to be the second all-Native American school in Minnesota to qualify for state, isn’t done yet. Leading scorer Diver will be back, as will Brown and Lester Williamson, another starter. And with a productive offseason, the Ogichidaag figure to contend again in Section 7A.
“We told the boys to hit the weight room over the summer because we have to get a little stronger,” Otis said. “And just do the little things we need to do to get back down here.”
Rushford-Peterson, which featured 13 different scorers, moves into today’s semifinals against either Nevis or Central Minnesota Christian.
Fond du Lac 27-31-58
Fond du Lac Ojibwe - Cameron Thompson 14, Justin Brown 7, Lester Williamson 2, Jordan Diver 14, Dexter Delille 13, Kenny Henagin 3, George LaPrairie 4, Kaleb Thompson 1. Totals 21 8-9 58.
3-point goals - Diver 4, Thompson 2, Delille, Henagin.
Rushford-Peterson - Charlie Krambeer 33, Alex Vix 10, Jacob Merchlewitz 13, Kyler Paulson 14, Zach Vix 6, Nathan Sarvi 3, Noah Dahl 4, Nicholas Knutson 2, Caleb Thompson 5, Noah Carlson 2, Neil Courrier 2, Tanner Lecy 2, Matt Culhane 9. Totals 41 7-8 105.
3-point goals - Krambeer 7, Merchlewitz 3, A. Vix 2, Z. Vix 2, Sarvi, Thompson.