The Hinckley-Finlayson Jaguars boys' basketball team brought home some more hardware for the trophy case. A fifth place championship trophy along with maybe a picture of Travis Visser. Visser scored the 2000th point in his career in his last basketball game as a Jag, and then he was selected to the All Tournament team. Visser finished his high school career with 2002 points and 1254 rebounds.
The 26-4 Jags attempt at a run at the State Class A championship started on Thursday at 1 p.m. on the floor of Williams Arena on the University of Minnesota campus. The opponent was the 30-1 Russell-Tyler-Ruthton (RTR) Knights. Both teams started very fast and it appeared the final scores might be close to the 100-point mark. Then both teams began tightening down on defense. The separation started at the 13-minute mark of the first half when with both teams tied. RTR slowly pulled away to gain a 12-point halftime margin.
In the second half, RTR expanded that lead to 18 with 15 minutes left in the game. The Jags then started to climb back into the game. Visser, Lavone Kroschel and Kolten Furey combined for 10 points to cut the lead to seven with 11 minutes in the game. That would be as close as the Jags would get. The Knights would hit a couple of shots and the Jags would get the margin to seven again, until the clock became the opponent and the Jags had to foul and the Knights did not miss. Final score 87-70. The Knights had a blistering second half, shooting 63 percent from the field and 94 percent from the free throw line.
The Jags moved to the Concordia Gangelhoff Center on Friday at 10 a.m. for the consolation championship bracket, where their opponents were the Mahnomen-Waubun Thunderbirds. This game stayed close until the tenth minute of the first half. The Jags just pulled away. At seven minutes left in the half, Kolten Furey passed to Trevor Johnson, who hit a three to give the Jags a 12-point margin. A layup by Visser with four minutes left in the half gave the Jags a 20-point lead. The Jags went into halftime 21 points up on the Thunderbirds.
The Jags finished out the second half going up by as much as 33 and winning by a score of 88-66. On to the Consolation Championship, same location, but 8 a.m. in the morning? That is correct. 8 a.m.! For the fans in Hinckley, it was rise and shine at about 5 a.m. if they were going to eat. The fan bus was sighted at the Hinckley-Finlayson High School a little after 6 a.m. But the Jag fans were in the bleachers when the official threw the ball up to start the game.
The Jags' opponents were the Rushford-Peterson Trojans and they have been to state before, 15 times in the 33 years head coach Tom Vix has been there. The Trojans won the state championship in 1989, 2006 and 2015. It would be and was a great final between two well-matched teams that had different games and was to compete to win.
The Jags put constant full court pressure on defense and pushed the ball up court on offense. The Trojans ran their 1-3-1 trapping half court defense and a methodical and deliberate offense, sometimes running off a minute or more before they got the shot they wanted. The Jags averaged 77 points a game. The Trojans 58 points a game. The Jags allowed 57 points a game. The Trojans 45 points a game. It was a battle of wills that lasted until the last 30 seconds of the game.
In the first half, the Jags would claim the first lead with a layup by Visser with the assist to Anders Prater. The Trojans came down and worked the ball around the court for 45 seconds and hit a three to take the lead by one. The Trojans held and extended the lead to seven, 24-17, with two minutes left in the half. Then the Jags made a 9-0 run with a layup by Visser with a Chayne Dunkley assist, a made free throw by Kyle Taggart, a three by Kroschel assisted by Taggart, a steal by Kroschel, a layup by Kolten Furey and a free throw by Furey. The Jags had the lead back 26-24. The total time the Jags had the lead in the first half was one minute seven seconds.
The second half started and 50 seconds into the half, the Knights scored and the game was tied at 26. Then the Knights scored again until they had a seven-point lead, 39-32, with just under 12 minutes left in the game. Another 10-2 run started with Visser's three straight baskets and a free throw, seven points, capped with a 3-point shot by Trevor Johnson for his Jag team to take the lead 42-41. The Jags extended the lead to as much as six, 44-50 with 1:39 left in the game. The Trojans came down and hit a three to cut the lead to three, 47-50, and time out. Time to make free throws. At 35 seconds left in the game, the Trojans fouled Kolten Furey. Not a good choice. He made both. 47-52 Jags. A turnover that led to a Jags' score and the game was pretty much over, 47-54. The Knights scored on a layup with 10 seconds left. Anders Prater scored the last two points in the game on free throws. Jags win 49-56.
The Jag team accepted their consolation trophy to the applause of their parents and fans, then showered and made it to the Target Center to watch the finals of the Class A Championship. The team that beat them in the first game, Russell-Tyler-Ruthton, won the championship. Travis Visser was chosen to the All Tournament Team. Then back on the bus for the ride home to a reception of fans. There Principal Brian Masterson said it best when he pointed out they were one of only three teams (out of 157 Class A teams) that finished the season with a win.
In the “Letters to the Editor" section of the Hinckley News this week, there is a letter addressed “To the fans, community members and businesses” from the Jaguar basketball coaches for your reading.
Jaguar State Tournament Stats
High Points: Travis Visser 18, Lavone Kroschel 15, Trevor Johnson 14, Kolten Furey 12
Rebounds: Visser 10, Kroschel 7, Anders Prater 4, Furey 3
Assists: Prater 4, Kroschel 4, Johnson 3, Visser 3, Furey 2
Steals: Kroschel 3, Visser 3
High Points: Prater 16, Johnson 15, Furey 13, Reuben Gibbs 12, Visser 12
Rebounds: Visser 18, Johnson 9
Assists: Furey 4, Prater 3, Visser 3
Steals: Johnson 6
High Points: Visser 20, Prater 8, Chayne Dunkley 8, Johnson 6,
Rebounds: Visser 11, Johnson 4
Assists: Prater 4, Kroschel 3, Visser 3, Dunkley 2
Steals: Visser 3, Furey 2