Boys basketball: Melrose going back to section final

Boys basketball: Melrose going back to section final


Boys basketball: Melrose going back to section final



It’s been 40 years since Melrose boys basketball last made it to a state tournament.

The Dutchmen have been to seven section title games during that stretch and always failed to advance. Melrose is hoping to end that streak at eight when they take on New London-Spicer in the Section 6-2A championship game at 6 p.m. on Friday at St. Cloud State’s Halenbeck Hall.

The Dutchmen advanced with a convincing 61-45 win over Sauk Centre on Tuesday night at St. John’s Sexton Arena.

“Melrose has seen a lot of section final losses,” Melrose head coach Ryan Dusha said. “We’ve always played great teams. We’re just going to try and enjoy this one.”

New London-Spicer beat Eden Valley-Watkins 65-43 earlier on Tuesday to advance.

“Anything’s possible for us right now,” Melrose senior point guard Seth Noll said. “We just have to keep playing great team basketball. We’re ready for a crazy atmosphere at Halenbeck.”

Melrose lost to Litchfield in last year’s section championship game at Halenbeck. But this is a vastly different team from a year ago.

The Dutchmen have five new starters and don’t have All-State shooting guard Scottie Stone around anymore — he just finished his freshman season at St. Cloud State.

“This is awesome, especially since we didn’t know what type of team we had coming into the season,” Dusha said. “This is a huge testament to our players and our entire community. There’s a lot of pride in Melrose basketball.”

The only returning player with experience coming into the season was Noll, who had 10 points against the Mainstreeters (18-8).

“Last year we were just trying to outscore everyone. This year we have to do all the little things to be successful,” Noll said. “We’ve really executed what the coaches have been telling us to do, especially on the defensive side.”

Melrose (19-9) jumped out to leads of 9-0 and 23-7 against a Mainstreeters team that looked shellshocked.

The Dutchmen and Mainstreeters split their two games during the regular season in the West Central Conference.

The Dutchmen were led by their two sophomore posts in 6-foot-3 Tyler Braegelmann (13 points) and 6-2 Colton Meyer (12 points).

Melrose controlled the glass and never let Sauk Centre get into any rhythm offensively until late in the second half.

“Our posts have done a tremendous job battling against older guys,” Noll said. “They need to keep it up and we’ll be fine.”

Melrose led 27-14 at the half and never allowed the Mainstreeters closer than 11 points the rest of the way.

“We’re not explosive as we were last year so we’ve really had to learn how to grind out these wins,” Dusha said. “We grind it out on the defensive side and try to be very efficient in what we’re doing.

“I think these guys wanted to make their own legacy. They love the guys from last year, but this isn’t last year. They wanted to be their own team.”

Seth Otte led the Mainstreeters with 16 points and Matthew Moritz had 15 points.

The Dutchmen know it won’t be easy to knock off New London-Spicer to end their section title drought.

“New London-Spicer is going to be very tough. They’re so physically gifted,” Dusha said. “They’re like Sauk Centre on steroids. They go to the boards and limit you to one shot.

“Their offensive rebounding is their best offense. If we rebound, we’ll have a chance.”


More USA TODAY High School Sports