Scarlets win section title for first state trip since 2009

Chad Courrier, The Free Press, Mankato, Minn.
·3 min read

Mar. 27—MANKATO — Two weeks ago, it looked like Louis Magers might not be playing basketball any more this season.

But on Friday, he was jumping around on the court, celebrating with teammates, after the Scarlets won.

"I'm really happy for these seniors," he said. "They've been on some teams that haven't been very successful, and to help them win this is an honor. There's no group of guys I'd rather be out there with."

West (15-4), the top seed in the section, earned its first trip to the state tournament since 2009, defeating Marshall 52-47 in the Section 2AAA championship game at the West gym. Magers, a junior, had a big first half, taking advantage of a single-team in the lane with a soft jump hook.

"I knew coming into the season that we needed (a center) so that's what I worked on," Magers said. "That's my role."

Magers suffered a foot injury a couple of weeks ago, hyperextending his toe, with the ligament tearing away a chunk of the bone. He didn't play for a couple of weeks, while West lost three games, and was fitted with an orthotic that took some of the pressure off the toe. He said he could play without doing further damage, provided he could stand the pain.

"It feels good right now," Magers said, a smile sneaking out from the corner of his mask. "It was tough to watch from the bench, especially when we lost three games. That wasn't fun."

The Scarlets hit their first three 3-pointers to jump ahead 11-6, but Marshall responded with an 8-2 run to take the lead.

Buom Jock hit another 3-pointer, then Magers scored 11 of the final 13 points as West led 31-23 at halftime.

"Louis is a guy we like to use to take some of the (defensive) load off of Mekhi (Collins) and Buom (Jock)," West coach Jeremy Drexler said. "He worked hard on his shot in the summer, and he was huge for us tonight. He and Brady (Haugum), they're our glue guys. They do the intangibles for us on the floor."

Marshall was able to close within four early in the second half, but Jock hit another 3-pointer and Magers scored on a putback. The Tigers (17-4) kept making runs, but each time, the Scarlets answered.

Collins had two inside buckets and Haugum scored from the lane to make it 48-40 with 4 minutes to play.

The lead shrunk to three points in the final minute, but Mason Ellwein, who missed most of the second half with a hand injury, made a layup, and Haugum and Jock each hit a layup to clinch the victory.

Collins ended up with 15 points and seven rebounds, while Magers finished with 13 points and eight boards. Jock scored 12 points, with three 3-pointers, to go with 10 rebounds.

Bryce Lance paced Marshall with 20 points.

"This is why the kids put in the work," Drexler said. "Four years ago, we had a talented team, but we knew we might struggle for a couple seasons. This is the reward for all the hard work."

West (16-4) advances to the Class AAA tournament, which begins next week with quarterfinal games at neutral sites. The pairings will be announced Saturday morning.

Follow Chad Courrier on Twitter @ChadCourrier.