Leading by double-digits for most of the game, the Redwood Valley boys basketball team remained unbeaten with an impressive 60-54 victory over state-ranked Montevideo Thursday night at the RVHS gymnasium.
The Cardinals (12-0) - ranked eighth in the latest Class AA poll - led by as many as 15 in the first half and held off a late Thunderhawk rally to pick up a big non-conference win over its Section 3AA rival.
Down 4-0 early, Beau Stough and Alec Koster hit a pair of three’s and senior standout Mike Busack electrified the crowd with a putback slam that put the Cardinals up 12-6.
Busack and Koster would knock down back-to-back three’s and Koster’s driving lay-up gave the Cards a 22-13 advantage with 9:33 to go in the first half.
Strong play from Busack and a nice job defensively by the entire Cardinal team would help Redwood Valley increase its lead to 32-17 late in the half.
Montevideo (10-4) would keep it interesting however with an 8-0 run to end the half, trailing by just seven 32-25.
The Thunderhawks would open the second half with a bucket to cut the lead to five but Busack answered with a shot off the glass and Stough knocked down his second three-pointer of the night to up the Cardinal lead back to 37-27.
Busack then buried a three-pointer, Koster added a lay-in and two free throws and suddenly it was 44-27 with just over 11 minutes remaining in regulation.
The Cardinals led comfortably - 52-36 - with under five minutes to go but the veteran Thunderhawks (with nine seniors on the roster) would put on a full court press and take advantage of some Cardinal turnovers and missed free throws to go on a 14-3 run to cut the deficit to just five with 44 seconds remaining.
Koster would hit a pair of clutch free throws and Busack would close things out on the line with 3-of-4 in the waning moments to close out the victory.
Busack continues to shine in the biggest moments, scoring a game-high 32 points and grabbing 12 rebounds. His ability to run the floor and score despite being double-teamed has stymied opposing teams as they try to find a way to stop him... and can’t.
Koster was a key factor in the Cardinals win as well as he knocked down 5-of-9 from the floor and hit 6-of-8 from the charity stripe on the way to 18 points.
Stough went 2-of-3 from downtown to finish with eight points, six rebounds and a team-high four assists and Steven Runkel had two points and three rebounds.
The Cardinals shot 51 percent from the floor (22-of-43), hit 10-of-16 from the charity stripe and commited just 10 turnovers.
Montevideo was led by Jake Douglas who surpassed 1,000 career points late in the game and finished with 18.
Colton Vien added 16 and Jesse Brace nine for the Thunderhawks.
Montevideo went 19-of-42 from the floor but struggled to 3-of-15 shooting from beyond the arc.
The T-Hawks hit 13-of-15 from the line and finished with 13 turnovers.
With the victory the Cardinals are now in great position to claim the top seed in the Section 3AA-North bracket when the postseason comes around and they should move up the Class AA rankings with impressive wins over Marshall, Windom Area, Worthington and now Montevideo on their resume.
Redwood Valley 60
Cardinal scoring - Busack 32, Koster 18, Stough 8, Runkel 2
Thunderhawk scoring - Douglas 18, Vien 16, Brace 9, Bergeson 8, Ward 2, TeBeest 1