A clash of two undefeated teams that reside in the same subsection is supposed to be filled with drama down to the wire.
Fans who showed up to see second-ranked Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa take on an 8-0 Ashby team didn’t get that on Monday night. Instead, they saw a clinic in basketball fundamentals put on by the Jaguars in a 72-27 win over the Arrows.
“I think it shows that we come out to play every game,” junior forward Billy Borgerding said. “We’re up to the challenge of competing against everyone. It was a big statement game tonight.”
The message they sent was loud and clear: this team has all the pieces in place to make another run at a state title. The Jaguars put together a magical season last winter on their way to a Class A championship and a perfect 33-0 record. Now 11 games into this season, that unbeaten streak sits at 44 games.
“We took it like a normal game,” junior guard Brian Goodwin said of facing an undefeated Ashby team. “We came into it and prepared like normal. We knew they were a good team, but we came out and did what we usually do.”
The Arrows were able to stay within single digits through the first part of the game, but the final nine minutes of the first half were dominated by BBE. Goodwin scored five quick points midway through the half to make it a 22-11 game and force an Ashby timeout. The Jaguars outscored the Arrows 26-5 over the next eight minutes, 52 seconds. Things got further out of hand in the second half as BBE won by its largest margin of victory this season.
“I thought we would keep it much closer than that outcome,” Ashby head coach Jeremy Knick said. “We only shot about 15 percent, which is very low, especially for us. The right guys for us were shooting the ball. It just wasn’t going in, and when you miss against them, you are constantly working hard on defense and that is not a good thing.”
The Arrows shot just 7-of-43 from the field. Senior J.P. Moe and junior Blake Ohren both had 10 points, but no other player had more than two. Senior forward Tanner Langlie was never a factor in the game after going to the bench with three fouls in the first half. He finished with just two points and four rebounds.
“I don’t think the 16 percent shooting was a product of their defense as much as it was us just having an off night,” Knick said. “I think J.P. Moe was especially proof of that. He has had many great shooting nights this year and in seasons past, but his shot was all over the place last night, and I thought he had good looks.”
An off night can’t happen against a team as talented as BBE if you want to stay within striking distance. The Jaguars ran their offense as efficiently as any team I have watched play this winter.
They got out in transition for a lot of easy buckets, but their half-court offense is a clinic on what it means to move without the basketball. The opposition has to exert all its energy fighting through screens and trying to keep the Jaguars from getting clean looks around the basket. That constant movement, coupled with a group of selfless players who are willing to make the extra pass, created an offense that basketball purists would love to watch.
“We never like to stand around,” Goodwin said. “We’re always moving. We just always find the open guy and love to contribute to the team.”
The Arrows couldn’t keep up last night. Ten different players scored for BBE as the Jaguars shot 56 percent from the field (29-of-51). Goodwin led the way with 19, while Borgerding added 15 and three others finished with at least seven.
“It feels like if anyone is off, the whole team can step up,” Borgerding said. “It helps that we’ve been playing together since third grade. You know where everyone is. There’s just really good team chemistry.”
And it’s a group motivated by the common goal of getting back to the state tournament. If last night was any indication, it will take a perfect night from another Section 6A foe to keep them from accomplishing that.
“That’s always the goal,” Goodwin said. “To get back to the state tournament, so our goals are pretty big. We’re pretty motivated. Coach always tells us to stay humble, though, so that’s what we try to do.”