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Cass Lake-Bena's Ben Cameron (22) goes up for a shot against Minnesota Transitions' Kyle Noreen during the second half of Thursday's Class A boys' state basketball tournament game at Williams Arena in Minneapolis. Forum Communications Co. Photo/Aaron Hagen, Worthington Daily Globe

Cass Lake-Bena's season comes to a close at state

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When the season began most area basketball fans thought that this might be the year when the Section 8A teams caught up with Cass Lake-Bena.

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Graduation had taken its share of talent and, although the Panthers were returning experience at most positions, many who follow high school boys basketball figured that a changing of the guard may be at hand.

But they were wrong.

Thursday afternoon at Williams Arena Cass Lake-Bena played in its fourth consecutive state tournament and its fifth in the past six winters. The Panthers lost their state opener 69-47 to Minnesota Transitions Thursday but the setback will not detract from what has been a wonderful campaign.

"We had a great season," said CL-B assistant coach Carl Jacobs. "I think we exceeded the expectations of many people."

Minnesota Transitions was the highest rated team in the state tournament field having finished the season ranked second among the state's Class A squads. Thursday the Wolves lived up to that billing as they connected on 27 of their 53 field goal attempts and 11 of 19 from 3-point land.

Cass Lake-Bena was not as accurate as the Panthers hit only 18 of their 59 shots and were a mere four of 24 from long range.

"We were competitive but it was hard to get after them and stay within reach when we couldn't get the ball into the paint and we couldn't hit from the outside," said CL-B head coach Dan Ninham.

"We wanted to attack and we did that to the best of our ability. In the end, however, we may have wore ourselves out. We have a main corps of upper classsmen who play most of the game and they may have gotten tired at the end."

"Minnesota Transitions can shoot but the bottom line was we didn't make our shots," Jacobs said. "It was just one of those days. When you can't make your shots and hit only four of 24 from 3-point land, it makes it very difficult to compete on equal terms against a tough team."

A glimpse of how the game would flow came early as the Panthers missed five shots and had two turnovers in their first seven possessions. Minnesota Transitions fared better during that stretch as three buckets by Rodney Owens vaulted the Wolves to an 8-0 lead.

Ben Cameron finally ended CL-B's dry spell with an inside bucket and Martin Wind followed with a 3-pointer.

Another 5-0 run later in the half, fueled by Trosen's free throw and inside hoops by Caleb Fisher and Cameron, drew Cass Lake-Bena within 16-12 and a bucket and two free throws by Trosen sliced the deficit to 19-16 with 4:20 to play in the opening stanza.

The Panthers, however, would not score again and the Wolves took advantage of the cold spell to outscore CL-B 12-0 the rest of the way and fashion a 31-16 lead at intermission.

"Defensively we were able to hold Transitions well below their average but we just couldn't score," Jacobs said. "We averaged 82 points this year and to have only 16 at halftime is disappointing. We had high expectations Thursday but when Martin wasn't able to hit his shots and when we weren't able to get the ball down low to Ben, we were in trouble."

Trosen paced Cass Lake-Bena's attack with 19 points and Cameron had 12. No other Panther contributed more than six.

"We were, of course, initially disappointed after the game," Ninham said. "We wanted the season to continue but we were competitive and we played as well as we could. Sometimes, that's just the way it goes.

"We finished 26-5 and made it to the state tournament. I think that's a pretty good season."

NOTE: A welcome home celebration for the team will be held 2 p.m. today at the high school gym. Everyone is invited.

Minn. Transition 69, CL-B 47

Minnesota Transition: Kevin Noreen 22; Kyle Noreen 12; Owens 16; Anderson 2; Ingram 4; Potter 13. Totals: 27-53, 11-19, 69. 3-point FG: 4-10. Rebounds 46, turnovers 19, steals 7, blocks 6, assists 16, fouls 13.

CL-B: Wind 2-19, 0-1, 6, Cameron 6-9, 0-0, 12; Trosen 6-13, 5-7, 19; Huesers 0-4, 0-0, 0; Fisher 2-6, 0-0, 4; Wittner 1-2, 0-0, 2; Nepson 0-0, 1-2, 1; Cloud 1-1, 1-3, 3; Ellis 0-0, 0-0, 0; Hanson 0-0, 0-0, 0; Goss 0-3, 0-0, 0. Totals: 18-59, 7-13, 47. 3-point FG: 4-24. Rebounds 25, turnovers 11, steals 10, blocks 2, assists 9, fouls 17.

Halftime: Minnesota Transitions 31, CL-B 16.

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Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

(218) 333-9200
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