Grafton advances to Region 2 title game
Contreras scores game-high 34 points
For the second time in the past three years the Grafton Spoilers and Cavalier Tornadoes will play for the Region 2 Boys’ Basketball championship.
Led by junior guard Austin Contreras, the Spoilers advanced to the title game with a 58-42 win over the Drayton Valley-Edinburg Titans in Tuesday’s semifinals at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center.
“Austin was unbelievable,” Grafton coach Riley Lillemoen said. “He made every shot we needed, he made big plays when we needed it. He got us back in the game and got us going.”
Contreras scored the first five points of the contest for Grafton and proved nearly unstoppable all night scoring a game-high 34 points for the Spoilers.
“It was just my night,” Contreras said. “Off the dribble was working for me. I just felt it so I kept doing it.”
The game between the District 4 top-seeded Spoilers and the District 4 number four-seeded Titans was close in the first quarter with both teams trading baskets back and fourth. A three-pointer by D-V-E’s Cameron Littlejohn with 18 seconds left in the first quarter put the Titans up 17-15.
With just over two minutes gone in the second quarter, Grafton’s leading scorer, junior center Garek Droog went to the bench after picking up his second foul of the game.
After a pair of made free throws by Syris Jenson, the Spoilers trailed 21-16.
Without their big presence inside, the Spoilers didn’t flounder, but instead closed the quarter on a 15-3 run led by Contreras who accounted for eight of those points.
“You never want your 6-foot-5 leading scorer on the bench if he doesn’t have to be, but I knew we’d be alright,” Lillemoen said. “Our guys filled in and did a good job with him on the bench.”
Leading 31-24 at halftime, the Spoilers continued to press their advantage playing a stifling defense that forced the Titans into turnover after turnover.
In all, Grafton forced 23 turnovers and scored 21 points off of them.
“We struggled with their press,” D-V-E coach Corey Laxdal said. “Nobody has really pressed us this year. We just got rattled.”
In addition to Contreras’ 34, Christian Lunde added nine points for Grafton, followed by Zak Hernandez with seven, Droog with four and Matt Mendoza and Jaime Villarreal with two points each.
Jenson led D-V-E with 15 points, followed by Austin Markel with seven and Jacob Larson with six. Bradley Keena added five points for the Titans, followed by Ben Phelps with four, Cameron Littlejohn with three and Jordan Laxdal with two.
For the game, the Spoilers shot 17-for-40 from the field, good for 45 percent. Grafton shot 18-for-25 from the free-throw line for 72 percent.
The Titans finished the game shooting 14-for-39 from the field, good for 36 percent and went 11-for-15 from the free-throw line for 73 percent.
The loss dropped the Titans season at 15-9. D-V-E will play Hillsboro-Central-Valley for third place Thursday at 6 p.m.
The win improved Grafton to 17-6. The Spoilers will play Cavalier (18-5) Thursday in the second game for the Region 2 championship.