Even in an 80-61 defeat to Mayer Lutheran in the season’s second game, Tigers’ head boys basketball coach Paul Fogarty saw much improvement from his team on the heels of a 40-point season-opening loss to Jordan.

“You gotta walk before you can run,” Fogarty said.

The Tigers are starting to run.

Belle Plaine knocked Mayer Lutheran from the ranks of the unbeaten in last Friday’s rematch, with a 68-64 victory to kick off a second tour of Minnesota River Conference teams.

The victory left Belle Plaine 5-2 in the MRC, 5-4 overall, and the winner of four straight games.

“Our confidence is growing and growing,” Fogarty said, adding that when the Tigers returned to practice to start the season, the players hadn’t had an opportunity to practice any basketball skills … shooting, passing, ball handling.

“You stay out of a gym for three months,” Fogarty said, “and your confidence will suffer.”

In other words, the Tigers had to walk before they could run.

“We really worked on those things one at a time,” said Fogarty, who says he strayed from emphasizing rebounding and defense in practice. “Now everything is pretty much in, and everyone is really comfortable.”

Fogarty said the Tigers’ plan was to slow the game down and keep it close into halftime. The Tigers employed 2-2-1 full court pressure after made baskets and played zone defense for much of the first half.

The plan helped the Tigers build a 23-16 lead, but Mayer Lutheran rattled off 10 straight points after a time-out to take a 26-23 lead. However,  the Tigers regained the lead at 30-28 on Cade Morrison’s three-pointer and only trailed 34-32 at the half.

“Early in the year we had no response like that,” Fogarty said.

We are right where we want to be, Fogarty told his team at halftime, and employed its man-to-man defense in the second half.

Belle Plaine stretched its lead to 55-44 after a Karim Tolbert three with 8:21 to play, but the Crusaders pulled to 62-60 with four minutes remaining.

Trailing 66-64, Mayer Lutheran had two open looks at a three-point basket in the final 30 seconds. Luke Luskey iced the game with two free throws.

Tolbert held Mayer Lutheran’s best player to just eight points, while scoring 18 of his own. Jackson Kruger added 17, Cade Morrison 14, and Luskey nine.

Cody Corbitt had five assists and Kruger nine rebounds.

“All the little things are starting to add up,” Fogarty said. “We can’t get over-confident; we are going to stress defense and rebounding … we are going to score.”

BP over TCU - Feb. 9

Morrison (23), Tolbert (16), Kruger (16), Corbitt (11), and Luskey (10) all hit double figures in an 80-58 victory over Tri-City United (3-2, 4-5) last Tuesday, Feb. 9.

Looking Ahead

The Tigers were scheduled to play LeSueur-Henderson on Monday night, Feb. 15, in LeSueur, but the game was postponed until Saturday, Feb. 20, at 1:30 p.m.

Belle Plaine will also travel to Southwest Christian (5-1, 6-3) next Tuesday, Feb. 23. Both teams will be attempting to keep pace with the Mayer Lutheran Crusaders, who still sit atop the conference at 7-1 (8-1 overall).

BPHS Boys Basketball Team Schedule and Results

Jan. 15:   L - Jordan 88, BP 44

Jan. 19: L - Mayer Lutheran 81, BP 60

Jan. 21:  W - BP 68, LSH 44

Jan. 25:  L - New Ulm 67, BP 65

Jan. 29:  L - SWC 72, BP 68

Feb. 1:   W - BP 81, SE 61

Feb. 6:   W - BP 52, NYA 50

Feb. 9:   W - BP 80, TCU 58

Feb. 12: W - BP 68, ML 64

Feb. 20: 1:30 @ LSH  (rescheduled from Feb. 15)

Feb. 23: 7:15 @SWC

Feb. 26: 7:15 @ NYA

Mar. 1:  7:15 @ TCU

Mar. 4:  7:15 @ Sibley East

Mar.6: 3:00 vs. Watertown-Mayer

Mar. 9:  7:15 vs. NYA

Mar. 11: 7 :15 @ LSH

Boys Basketball Standings

  (Conference, Overall)

Mayer Lutheran...........7-1, 8-1

SW Christian...............5-1, 6-3

Belle Plaine.................5-2, 5-4

TCU............................3-2, 4-5

NYA............................2-5, 2-6

Sibley East..................1-6, 1-7

LS-H............................1-7, 1-7

Recent Scores

Mayer Lutheran 65, NYA 58

Belle Plaine 80, TCU 58

Sibley East 71, LS-H 67

Belle Plaine 68, Mayer Lutheran 64

SWC 71, Sibley East 36

TCU 54, LS-H 51

Box Scores

Belle Plaine 68

Mayer Lutheran 64

Belle Plaine    32         36    68

Mayer Luth.    34     30      64          

Belle Plaine scoring – Gerres 2, Tolbert 18, Kruger 17, Corbitt 5, Luskey 9, Morrison 14, Retzer 3

Rebounds – Belle Plaine 35 (Kruger 9, Tolbert, Luskey, 8)

Steals – Belle Plaine 7 (Tolbert 3, Luskey 2)

Assists – Belle Plaine 14 (Corbitt 5, Luskey 3).

Belle Plaine 80

Tri-City United 58

TCU             20        38    58

Belle Plaine  33        47    80

Belle Plaine scoring – Tolbert 16, Kruger 16, Corbitt 11, Fogarty 2, Luskey 10, Morrison 23, Retzer 2

Rebounds – Belle Plaine 32 (Morrison 9, Corbitt 8, Tolbert 5)

Steals – Belle Plaine 6 (Luskey 2)

Assists – Belle Plaine 21 (Luskey 8, Tolbert 5, Corbitt 3).

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