Boys play with Fire, deck the Cards

The New Prague Trojans boys basketball team won three straight games last week to up their season’s record to 5-1 on the season. With two starters fighting the flu, the Trojans used depth to defeat Holy Family, Alexandria and Willmar. New Prague was scheduled to face Delano (No. 8, Class AAA) on Tuesday, Dec. 18, then will host Kasson- Mantorville on Thursday, Dec. 20, before taking an eight-day break for the Christmas holiday. New Prague travels to Austin for a rematch of last year’s Section 1AAA championship game on Friday, Dec. 28.

Trojans 74, Fire 64 Even with starters Joe Kneip and Nick Johnson out of the lineup with the flu, the Trojans lit up the Fire early, taking a 19-point halftime lead.

New Prague still led by about 20 points with 10 minutes remaining, but the Trojans found themselves in foul trouble and the Fire closed the gap to single digits in the final minutes.

“We always preach to the kids on the bench that they have to be ready, and each one was tonight,” Coach Aaron Jasperson said. “We got a great spark from Kyle Zweber, who came off the bench to score six points in about three minutes to help us to a big halftime lead.”

New Prague used a balanced attack, with five players in double figures. Kyle Stepka led the team with 13 points, while Blake Wooten and Michael Soderlund had 12 each and Luke Rynda and Greg Vogel both had 10. Other Trojans scoring were Paul Friendshuh (9), Zweber (6), and Jake Ryan (2).

The Trojans had a 41-34 edge on rebounds, with Soderlund grabbing nine and Vogel seven. Wooten dished out seven assists.

Trojans 56, Alexandria Cardinals 47 New Prague took a twoday road trip to West Central Minnesota and came home with a pair of wins.

On Friday New Prague faced Alexandria, a team that had given them a tight game last year.

“We had a great start, but got a little stagnant later in the half,” Jasperson said. “Joe Kneip and Nick Johnson didn’t start due to illness, but were able to play. It took them a while to get into the flow.”

The Trojans trailed 25-21 at halftime.

With nine minutes remaining, the Trojans moved their two post men out to the perimeter, taking the Cardinals’ top player away from the rim.

“We started penetrating gaps and were able to pull away down the stretch,” Jasperson said.

Friendshuh topped the Trojan scoring with 14 points, with Rynda adding 11. Other scorers were Johnson and Soderlund (8 each), Stepka (7), Wooten (6), and Kneip (2). Johnson grabbed 10 rebounds and Rynda had five assists.

Trojans 77, Willmar Cardinals 64 Johnson and Kneip appear to have returned to form, as both had solid outings in a 77-64 win at Willmar Saturday. Johnson had 19 points, 18 in the first half, and Kneip 12 points and six assists.

But it was Rynda who was the Trojan scoring leader. The senior guard had a gamehigh 22 points, including a stretch where he had three three-pointers to put the Trojans firmly in command.

“We moved our bigs out to the perimeter again and used our strong, athletic guards to take advantage of Willmar,” Jasperson said. “Rynda, Johnson and Kneip could get a great shot on almost every possession.”

Rynda had 22 for the Trojans, Johnson 19, Kneip 12, and Friendshuh 10. Also scoring were Stepka (5), Wooten and Soderlund (4 each) and Malik Jallah (1). Rynda and Stepka each had five rebounds for the Trojans and Kneip had six assists.

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