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Kretschmar, Mustangs upset LaMoure-L-M

South Border’s Adam Jacobson takes the ball to the hole as LaMoure-Litchville-Marion’s Parker Stemen (5) tries to defend during the Region 3 tournament on Monday.(John M. Steiner / The Sun)

The way LaMoure-Litchville-Marion started the second half on Monday night, Matt Kretschmar had every right to feel a sense of urgency.

The South Border junior point guard played that way, too.

Kretschmar poured in 14 of his game-high 24 points as South Border rallied from a 19-point deficit in the second half for a 63-58 win at the Civic Center.

“I felt really rushed, but I didn’t lose faith,” he said. “We just had to pick it up.”

The win sends the Mustangs to the semifinals of the Region 3 tournament for the second straight year. They play Strasburg-Zeeland at 6 p.m.

Good things could be in store for the Mustangs if Kretschmar shoots like he did against top-seeded LaMoure-Litchville-Marion, which entered as defending region champion. Kretschmar was 6-of-7 from beyond the arc to finish 9-of-11 from the field.

“Every chance I got, I was throwing it up,” Kretschmar joked. “I’ve been a pretty good 3-point shooter in my career.”

Hunter Pinke added 21 points for Mustangs, who trailed 33-27 at halftime and 46-27 with 3 minutes, 22 seconds remaining in the third quarter. South Border was able to cut the deficit down to 11 with two treys from Kretschmar before the final break.

“He’s one of those players that can really stroke it from the 3-point line,” South Border coach Robbie Lukens said. “He’s an unsung hero for us.”

He had two more in the fourth quarter, with his final 3-pointer drawing the Mustangs to within one at 53-52. A baseline jumper from Adam Jacobson gave South Border the lead on the next possession, and a Pinke 3-pointer put the Mustangs up 61-54 with less than a minute to go.

LaMoure-L-M got within three in the final 30 seconds, but Jacobson nailed two free throws to clinch the upset.

Lukens said he used four different defenses, starting the game with man-to-man and watching the Loboes run out to a 23-9 lead by the end of the first quarter. It may not have worked well right away, but that didn’t stop the second-year coach from going back to it.

“We ran man in the first half, and they torched it,” said Lukens, whose team gave up just two field goals over the final 10 minutes, 30 seconds. “Championship teams have to play man-to-man defense.”

Anthony Olson’s 22 points and 14 rebounds paced the Loboes, who lose just one senior in point guard Brady Thielges. He added 13 points and six assists.

“I feel really bad for Brady, as his dad and as his coach,” LaMoure-Litchville-Marion coach Darren Thielges said. “With all he’s done for our program, it’s sad to see it come to an end early.”

Darren Thielges said his team struggled to balance its press with a consistent offense. The Loboes forced turnovers, but often settled for quick jumpers on the other end. When they weren’t pressing, they were more patient on offense, Darren said.

“Our press would get a turnover, but we’ve got to continue to be strategic on offense,” he said. “It was kind of like a blur. I looked up and we were in control, and then we weren’t.”

Region 3 Tournament

At Jamestown Civic Center

South Border 63,                                                      LaMoure-Litchville-Marion 58

South Border  9 27 37 63

LaMoure-Litchville-Marion  23 33 48 58

South Border — Matt Kretschmar 24, Hunter Pinke 21, Ross Knoll 8, Adam Jacobson 6, Mathew Rueb 4. Totals 23-54 9-15 63. Totals 23-54 9-15 63.

LaMoure-Litchville-Marion — Anthony Olson 22, Drew Thielges 14, Brady Thielges 13, Brady Warcken 5, Parker Stemen 2, Quinn Alo 2. Totals 21-70 11-17 58.

3-pointers: SB 8-17 (Kretschmar 6, Pinke 2), LLM 5 (D. Thielges 2, B. Thielges 2, Warcken). Rebounds: SB 39 (Jacobson 12), LLM 40 (Olson 14). Assists: SB 7 (Kretschmar 2, Jacobson 2), LLM 8 (B. Thielges 6). Fouls: SB 16, LLM 16. Fouled out: SB, Pinke. Turnovers: SB 15, LLM 7.

Records: South Border 14-9, LaMoure-L-M 15-7.

Sun sports writer Chris Aarhus can be reached                     at (701) 952-8462 or