Boys basketball: Cass Lake-Bena wins playoff opener, Ninham reaches No. 200
The Cass Lake-Bena boys basketball team won its playoff opener Saturday and head coach Dan Ninham reached 200 career victories. The No. 1 seeded Panthers rolled past No. 8 seed Clearbrook-Gonvick 105-66 in the Section 8A East Subsection quarterfi...
The Cass Lake-Bena boys basketball team won its playoff opener Saturday and head coach Dan Ninham reached 200 career victories.
The No. 1 seeded Panthers rolled past No. 8 seed Clearbrook-Gonvick 105-66 in the Section 8A East Subsection quarterfinals.
"The kids are playing real well and everything is coming together very well," said Ninham, who has coached the Panthers for 10 years.
The Panthers advance to face No. 4 Win-E-Mac on Tuesday night at 6:30 p.m. in Thief River Falls. The Patriots defeated No. 5 Blackduck 68-50 Saturday at BHS.
The trio of Martin Wind, Nate Salscheider and Joel Salscheider led the Panthers in the victory. Wind finished with a game-high 25 points, 10 rebounds, 12 assists and five steals. Nate Salscheider had 19 points, eight rebounds and nine steals. Joel Salscheider had 19 points and 11 rebounds.
Jeromy O'Brien scored 15 points and Nate Howard added 12 for the Panthers.
Leading Clearbrook-Gonvick was Brennan Baake with 16 points and John Bruggeman with 15.
Clearbrook-Gonvick ended the season 6-18 overall, which included a section playoff win against Lake of the Woods on Thursday night.
The Bears struggled shooting early in the game and were put into a 20-4 hole early by the Panthers.
That was when the Bears started to challenge the Panthers, going on a 13-4 run over the next four minutes to cut Cass Lake-Bena's lead to 24-17.
It was as close as Clearbrook-Gonvick would get.
The high-powered Cass Lake-Bena offense took over, going on a 26-7 run to take a 50-24 lead with three minutes left in the first half.
Cass Lake-Bena's offense hit another slow spot, failing to score in the final three minutes of the first half. The Panthers entered the locker room with a 50-31 lead.
The 19-point lead was significant, but Joel Salschider was not comfortable with it.
"We didn't come out as strong as we would have liked," he said. "For us 19 points is still a close game and any team can come back from that. Clearbrook-Gonvick is a good team and they were still in it at halftime"
Cass Lake-Bena played strong to open the second half, going on a 12-5 run over the first five minutes to extend the lead to 62-36.
With 11:40 remaining, the Panthers had their first 30-point lead at 75-44 and with 6:52 left, the Panthers were up 86-56.
"At times we played good and we had some spurts were we were really efficient," Ninham said. "We had the scoring and we played good defense."
The Panthers (24-3) were all over the ball in their 12th straight victory and had 24 steals in the game. Cass Lake-Bena averages 20 steals per game.
Cass Lake-Bena scored most of their points under the basket, but were helped by strong 3-point shooting in the second half. After going 1-for-11 beyond the arc in the first half, Cass Lake-Bena was 9-for-14 in the second half.
Clearbrook-Gonvick was 10-for-20 from three-point range in the loss.
Joe Wilson had 6 points for Cass Lake-Bena, Thomas Heusers 3 and Ryan Lemon 2.
Nick Spray had 9 points for Clearbrook-Gonvick, Tyler Jackson 7, Ryan Horn 6, Devin Larson 5, Josh VorderBruggen 4, Dakota Ness 2 and Chris Kjollhaug 2.
The Panthers, the No. 2 ranked team in Class A, will face Win-E-Mac for the first time this season Tuesday at Ralph Engelstad Arena at 6:30 p.m.
Win-E-Mac carries a 16-9 overall record into the game.
Ninham insists the Panthers prepare on a game-by-game basis and are not looking ahead to the state basketball tournament.
"We focus on who we play next and we key on that," Ninham said. "We'll all be watching the next three games here today without a break until the last buzzer -- well except for a dinner break."
With expectations high for the Panthers, Joel Salscheider confirmed Ninham's point.
"We just take it one game at a time and not look ahead. A lot of our guys are humble about our abilities to play the game," he said.