The Morris Tigers did not have Mounds View, Crosby-Ironton, Breckenridge, Rocori, St. Bernard's, Grand Rapids or Pelican Rapids on their schedule.
Those seven teams accounted for all eight Staples-Motley losses this season.
Cardinals head coach Lynn Peterson is hoping that tougher schedule will mean a more prepared team. The young Cardinals are playing like seasoned veterans and in many respects they are with four-year starters Jordan Riewer and Derek Wolhowe. S-M has won four straight, including a 61-55 victory over Breckenridge Saturday.
Jordan Riewer leads Cards with 18.9 points per game.
"The major difference in our team the last few games is we're playing with more energy and excitement," said Peterson. "We're getting after things at both ends of the floor. We've picked our pace up a little."
Riewer's 18.9 points and 6.1 assists leads the Cardinals. The junior point guard also has 100 total steals and 7.0 rebounds per game. Wolhowe is averaging 16.9 points and 8.0 rebounds. He has 55 assists and 49 steals.
The emergence of Jason Johnson in the post has been a big key to S-M's recent play. The 6-foot-4 junior is averaging 7.1 points and 2.6 rebounds, but coupled with Jon Bristow (9.0 points and 3.7 rebounds) gives the Cardinals depth in the paint.
No. 3 Staples-Motley vs. No. 1 Morris
When: 8 p.m. Tuesday
Where: University of Minnesota-Morris
What: West Subsection 6-2A championship
At stake: Trip to Section 6-2A final against New London-Spicer/Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa winner
Cardinals keys: We need to get a flow to the game. The more flow there is to the game the better off we're going to be. If we have to stand around and figure out what we're doing we'll be in trouble, because they can lull you to sleep.
- Cardinals head coach Lynn Peterson.
"He's a force inside," Peterson said of Johnson. "He's stronger and goes to the basket hard. Jon is a little quicker."
S-M is outscoring opponents 73.4-63.6 and shooting 47.6 from the field compared to 43.0 for opponents. They are also outrebounding opponents 32.8-30.8.
Morris (22-4) is the No. 1 seed and defeated Benson 78-62 to advance to the subsection final.
"They're a balanced team," said Peterson. "They really look to go inside to Jackson Henrich and Chris Scott. They like to control the tempo by pounding the ball inside. Then they have kids on the outside who are capable of hitting some shots. They're a hard team to get a gauge on because they'll pass the ball and be very patient with the ball."
JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at email@example.com or 855-5856.
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