qualities
Steve Voigt of United South Central raises the plaque for winning the Sub-section 2A finals Tuesday against Mountain Lake Area at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter. From left are Cody Nelson, Riley Kloos, Nate Pederson, Voigt and Walker Linde. — Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune
Steve Voigt of United South Central raises the plaque for winning the Sub-section 2A finals Tuesday against Mountain Lake Area at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter. From left are Cody Nelson, Riley Kloos, Nate Pederson, Voigt and Walker Linde. — Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

Gallery: United South Central boys upset No. 2-ranked Mountain Lake Area

Published 1:34am Wednesday, March 5, 2014

ST. PETER — Despite playing without its double-double machine, the United South Central boys’ basketball team won the Subsection 2A crown.

Before the opening tip, the Rebels were underdogs.

Mountain Lake Area was ranked No. 2 in Class A and the No. 1 seed in the subsection. USC was unranked in Class A and the No. 2 seed in the subsection.

To mount the odds in the Wolverine’s favor even more, USC’s Steve Voigt was forced to cheer from the bench because of a Jones fracture in his foot. Rebels head coach Rob Stevermer said Voigt will wear a cast for the next six weeks.

Voigt was an integral part of the Rebels’ gameplan. He averaged 17.5 points and 12.5 rebounds per game in the postseason.

However, USC defeated Mountain Lake Area 63-59 Tuesday in the Subsection 2A finals at Gustavus Adolphus College.

“It was a team effort,” Stevermer said. “We had to really work together and be alert on the weak side to collapse and help. We knew it was going to be a scrum down around the basket when shots went up. We had to play tough down there and rebound and get loose balls. Fortunately for us, we did that more often than not.”

The Rebels led 33-27 at halftime and built a nine-point lead early in the second half when Trevor Stencel nailed a 3-pointer. Mountain Lake Area respond with a 7-0 run and took its first lead of the second half at the 10-minute mark.

“Our coaches told us to survive the run, and we’d get back into it,” USC’s Luke Trio said. “You just have to stay in the game and fight back, and at the end, we did.”

Stencel tied the game at 54 with another 3-pointer, and Trio gave the Rebels breathing room with 2:13 left by burying a 3-pointer of his own.

“That was a big shot,” Stevermer said. “He (Trio) is a big-game type of player — him and Nate (Pederson). You know those guys will play their best when you really need it.”

Leading up to that play, Stevermer said he didn’t want his team to force any shots.

“We really took care of the ball and were patient,” he said. “He (Trio) did a nice job of letting that shot come to him.”

Cody Nelson scored on a busted assignment to extend USC’s lead to five points, but Mountain Lake Area cut its deficit to two points with 51 seconds left.

The Wolverines were scoreless the rest of the game, and a pair of free throws from Trio sealed the Rebels’ win.

Eleven of USC’s wins this year were by 10 points or fewer.

“We’ve been in a lot of close games throughout the year, so we’re used to this environment,” said USC’s Walker Linde. “We never lose hope when we get down.”

The Rebels (23-4 overall, 11-3 Gopher Conference) have won 13 straight games dating back to a 75-55 loss at Blooming Prairie on Jan. 20.

Next, USC will play at 6 p.m. Friday against Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City at Minnesota State-Mankato University.

The Falcons (20-7 overall, 9-6 West Central Conference) have won five straight games dating back to an 83-68 loss at Benson on Feb. 14.

“We know they score a lot of points, and they have some big shooters,” Stevermer said. “It’s going to be a tough ballgame.”

Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City was the No. 1 seed in the other half of the subsection.