By Chad Courrier
Free Press Staff Writer
It was no secret how Cannon Falls wanted to defend St. Peter.
In the first half, the Bombers put two or three guys on center Peter Kruize, limiting his touches and sagging in to force the shooters to beat them.
It worked for a while, but the 6-foot-8 Kruize got his in the second half.
“We just had to slow down and get the best shot we could,” Kruize said. “What really worked was to screen for Tommy (Steidler), and he got some easy buckets. Once they came out on me, I was able to get things going.”
Kruize had 19 points and 10 rebounds to lead St. Peter to a 65-46 victory over Cannon Falls in the finals of the Section 2AA, North Subsection boys basketball playoffs Monday at Bresnan Arena. It took a while for the Saints to solve Cannon Falls’ sagging defense, but once they did, it was over.
“We played really good defense, and we contested every shot,” St. Peter coach Kelly Raymond said. “Peter is such a difference-maker.
“Once we saw that they weren’t guarding our point guard, we just started to attack. The bench did an awesome job.”
While Cannon Falls was focusing on Kruize, Steidler got off to a strong start, scoring eight points to help the Saints build a 13-5 lead. St. Peter started to find Kruize on lobs late in the first half, and Jordan Sorenson scored on a couple layups as the Saints went up 29-19 at halftime.
In the second half, Kruize found more room to operate, and he took some nice passes from teammates for post baskets. He also had a couple of assists to Steidler, adding 14 points and seven rebounds in the second half as St. Peter gradually pulled away.
“We’re a diverse team,” Kruize said. “We can go short and quick, or we can go big and tall and cover the whole court.”
St. Peter finished the game strong as eight players chipped in with points. Steidler ended up with 18 points and five rebounds, and Sorenson scored nine points. St. Peter made 5 of 14 from 3-point range and had a 37-24 advantage in rebounding.
St. Peter (25-3), the defending section champion, takes on Hayfield in the section championship game at 8 p.m. Friday at Bresnan Arena.
“This is a thrill to play in this atmosphere,” Kruize said. “Every possession is so important. One turnover can cost you.”