If there is a basketball pounding a hard court or an asphalt surface, chances are Ben Stoll is nearby.
The junior point guard for the Pillager Huskies boys' basketball team plays, practices and dreams about basketball almost all day.
His passion for the game is one reason the Huskies cruised through the East Subsection and into the Section 6, Class 1A championship game Friday.
Stoll scored 27 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in a 65-37 victory over Cass Lake-Bena in the subsection semifinals. He added six points in a 60-35 win over Sebeka in the subsection quarterfinals.
"It's my job to distribute the ball and get the other players involved," said Stoll. "I get my offense going in the fourth quarter if we need it."
That's what the energetic guard did Tuesday against Menahga in the subsection championship game at Bemidji State University.
He scored 12 of his game-high 23 points in the fourth quarter to lead an amazing comeback.
"As a captain, I just figured it was time for me to take control," Stoll said of the championship game. "We just weren't playing our game. As a team we just realized we had to take it upon ourselves."
Stoll's ability to beat his opponent off the dribble and find an opening to the basket were keys to Tuesday's game.
Those assets were also keys to Stoll's success for most of the season.
"He knows about the game," said Pillager coach Jim Bentson. "He's really come along as a shooter. He penetrates to the basket better than anyone in the section."
Stoll was Pillager's sixth man on its fourth-place state Class 1A team in 2002. His role then was to provide scoring spark when the team needed it. This season he's a leader and asked to control games when possible.
"Ben can create his own offense," said Bentson. "I don't feel I have to call a play for Ben because he's going to create his own within the realm of our offense.
"His teammates set him picks and Ben knows what to do. Plus, he's an 80 percent free-throw shooter so we want him to have the ball and drive to the basket late in games."
Stoll hopes the Huskies continue on to the state tournament, if for nothing else it's something to do. Bentson, who is also the track and field coach in Pillager, has tried to sway Stoll toward that sport as well. But with basketball being a large part of Stoll's life, there might not be enough time in the day.
"Basketball means a (great) deal to me," Stoll said. "That's pretty much my main focus. It's all I do. I play AAU and I go to at least two camps and me and my brother play countless hours in the summer."
Other notable performances:
Basketball -- Tony Zontelli, Crosby-Ironton, scored 20 points vs. Deer River.
Cody Nelson, Pequot Lakes, scored 20 points vs. Greenway.
Mark Gaalswyk, Pillager, had 32 points and 21 rebounds vs. Sebeka and 12 points and 10 rebounds vs. Cass Lake-Bena.
Michael Grieme, Wadena-Deer Creek, scored 20 points vs. West Central.
Luke Schramm, Pequot Lakes scored 17 points vs. Greenway and 26 vs. Crosby-Ironton to reach 1,000 for his career.
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