Luverne drops FTs, B.E. Area

BLUE EARTH – Luverne’s backcourt tandem of Matt Arends and Brett Heronimus put on a free throw-shooting clinic during nonconference hoops action Thursday night in Blue Earth.

Arends made 11 of 12 second-half free throws to fuel his 21-point effort, while Heronimus sank 9 of 13 charity tosses to pace his 22-point performance to power the visiting Cardinals to an 85-71 triumph over the Blue Earth Area Bucs.

Ironically, Luverne produced only the second tie of contest since 2-all when Heronimus drained the front end of a one-and-one situation with 1.8 seconds remaining before halftime.

Brandyn Olsen delivered nine of his game-leading 26 points during the opening 18 minutes, while teammate Isaac Darrington generated four of his 13 points and garnered six of his game-best 11 rebounds to help the hometown Bucs build eight-point leads at 17-9 and 27-19.

Heronimus and Arends, however, warmed up the nylon nets from 3-point territory during the final seven minutes of the initial half to eventually swing a 30-29 lead to the Cardinals with 2:30 left before intermission.

After Steven Plocker’s low-post leaner staked the Bucs to a 29-23 edge, Arends nailed a trifecta, Blake Ziegler sank a solo free throw and Heronimus buried a trey to put Luverne in front by one.

Luke Monson, who contributed eight points and nine rebounds off Blue Earth Area’s bench, countered with a pair of drop-step baskets in the lane to help the Bucs head into the lockerroom knotted at 33-all.

Luverne head coach Tom Rops, however, used his always animated style to motivate the Cardinals, especially forward Matt Overgaard, out of the second-half starting gate. Overgaard, who netted only two first-half points, scorched the nets on his first five field goals of the second half to help Luverne erupt for a 16-8 run by the 12-minute juncture.

The Cardinals then secured their double-digit victory by sinking 20 of 28 free throws for 71 percent during the final 10 minutes of regulation. Luverne also made 15 of 24 shots from the floor during the second half for 63 percent.

Overgaard delivered 17 points to the Cardinals’ balanced scoring attack, Blake Ziegler contributed 11 points, while Josh Slieter chipped in eight points.

Darrington finished with a double-double of 13 points and 11 boards, while Dallas Barslou scored 10 points and doled out three assists for the Bucs.

Blue Earth Area (9-13), the No. 5 seed in the Section 2AA, South Sub-Section tournament, travels to Wells on Monday for a 7 p.m. quarterfinal clash against No. 4-seeded United South Central.

Luverne (14-9), the No. 5 seed in the Section 3AA, South Sub-Section tournament, hits the road to Jackson County Central on Saturday for a 7 p.m. quarterfinal game against the No. 4-seeded Huskies.