Loss ends NYM season with a second place finish in Section 6A tournament

By Chad Koenen

Publisher

New York Mills nearly pulled off a comeback for the ages on Friday night. The Eagles trailed by 16 points with just 5 minutes left to go in the Section 6A championship game. That’s when NY Mills went on a run to pull within a single possession of Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa in a game between two teams ranked in the top five in the state. 

The finish came down to the wire as the Jaguars did just enough to stay in front of the Eagles and capture the Section 6A championship by a score of 71-65. The loss ended the Eagles tremendous season with a record of 28-2 overall and runner up finish in the section tournament. The loss came on the heels of a 65-60 win over Henning on Tuesday night in the sub section championship game. 

With the win the Jaguars have advanced to the state basketball tournament, which is set for this week at Williams Arena. 

Opening round match ups at state include: top seeded Hayfield will play unseeded Russell-Tyler-Ruthton; fourth seeded Nevis will play fifth seeded Cherry; second seeded BBE will play unseeded Sleepy Eye Saint Mary’s; and third seeded New Life Academy will play unseeded Sacred Heart. 

Tuesday

In front of a standing room only crowd at Perham High School, the NY Mills Eagles took on the Henning Hornets for the third time this season. The Eagles won the two previous games and were looking to make it three straight wins over the Hornets this season. 

NY Mills led the Hornets by a score of 31-21 at halftime, and by as many as 20 points, with about 10 minutes remaining in the second half. Henning went on a late run to cut the lead to a single possession with about 3 minutes remaining the game, before the Eagles were able to break the Hornets run and come away with a 65-60 win.

“As usual we got a big lead on them and they came roaring back,” said head coach Mike Baune. “Huge credit to those boys as they showed huge heart and guts and got it to within a few points, but ultimately we leaned on our senior squad to steady the ship and finish it off.”

Tate Olson had a big game for the Eagles as the senior recorded a triple-double with 21 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists in the win. It was the third time this season the Eagles defeated Henning as the win moved NY Mills to the section championship game against Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa on Friday night. 

Friday

In a game that could have just as easily been played for a state championship, than that of the section title game in Fergus Falls, the NY Mills Eagles took on the Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa Jaguars on Friday night. The Eagles came into the game as the second ranked team in state, while the Jaguars were ranked fifth. 

Head coach Mike Baune said the Eagles faced maybe one of the only teams in the state that can match NY Mills’ athletes. 

“They are a team without any weaknesses and one who will make a lot of noise down at Williams Arena this week for the state tournament,” he said. 

After trailing for most of the first half, NY Mills overcame some early foul trouble to pull within 1 point by a score of 37-36 at halftime. The second half started out like the first half with the Jaguars going on an early run, only to have the Eagles stay within striking distance, due to a dominant performance by senior Tate Olson. He ended up scoring 38 points in the game. 

Breck Hensch also had a big game in what would be his final game for the Eagles as he finished with 13 points. 

“We leaned heavily on our superstar Tate Olson in the scoring column and he was absolutely unstoppable scoring 38 hard earned points for us,” said Baune. “Breck Hensch also showed his great basketball savvy making huge plays every time we needed and also knocked in a few threes en route to 13 points.”

Ultimately, the combo of guard Kaden Pieper and Ashton Dingman proved to be too much for the Eagles to  stop defensively as the BBE pair both finished with solid nights from the field. 

NY Mills cut the BBE lead to just 67-62 with 36 seconds left, before the Jaguars hit a pair of free throws with 21 seconds left to make the game 69-62. BBE went on to hit another pair of free throws with 16 seconds left and the Eagles drained another 3-pointer, but it wasn’t enough as the Eagles had their season end by a score of 71-65. 

While the outcome may not have been what the Eagles wanted, Baune said he was proud of the effort from the entire team. 

“We laid it all on the line in an epic comeback as we cranked up the pressure down 16 with 5 minutes or so left and getting it all the way down to 3 points with around a minute left. We couldn’t get the lucky bounce, or call that you need to complete a huge comeback like that,” said Baune. “Regardless, I couldn’t have been more proud of our guys as we went down swinging.”

The loss ends the Eagles season with a record of 28-2. They won their second straight Park Region Conference championship with a perfect 14-0 record in conference play and their two losses were to Hancock and BBE, two teams who were ranked in the top 10 in the state. They were the sub section champions and finished in second place in the section tournament. 

“This ends the careers of seven amazing seniors, most of whom have been in a varsity uniform for 3-4 years. Tate Olson will be deciding on a college to play basketball at in the coming months. They certainly left their mark on New York Mills basketball and will go down as one of the greatest teams ever,” said Baune. “We set out to be special this season, and I wholeheartedly believe that we were. I’ll miss them greatly and look forward to following them all in their future endeavours.”