New Ulm takes Big South for 3rd straight year

File photo by Ari Selvey New Ulm’s Nick Firle throws down a dunk during a Big South Conference boys basketball game last Thursday at New Ulm High School.

NEW ULM — It is a three-peat for the New Ulm boys basketball team.

Colton Benson scored 43 points and had four clutch free throws in the final 15 seconds as the Eagles downed a strong Worthington squad 93-87 for their third consecutive Big South Conference title.

James Osborne ended with 17 points, Nate Firle 13 and Will Fossen 11 as New Ulm ends the regular season at 19-7 overall and 12-3 in the conference.

Jacari Swinea paced the Trojans (14-11, 10-6) with 20 points.

“I am so proud of the effort and energy of our boys,” New Ulm head coach Matt Dennis said. “But credit to Worthington — they never gave up all night long and every way to the end — and they made things really tough. They are a well-coached team.”

Benson, who scored 27 of his 43 points in the second half, said that this was something that has never been done in school history.

“Lots of hard work and dedication — this is a group of guys that stuck with it and it is paying off,” Benson said.

New Ulm trailed just once in the game and that came early when Zach Hayenga gave the Trojans a 7-5 lead before the Eagles built a 23-13 lead thanks to Osborne, who canned a 3 and later turned a Worthington turnover into a basket.

New Ulm took a 33-21 lead on a long Fossen 3 with 6:50 left in the first half and later made it a 44-29 lead with just over a minute left in the first half as the tandem of Benson (16) and Osborne (14) accounted for 30 of the Eagles 49 first-half points.

New Ulm built a 66-51 lead at the 10:15 mark of the second half on a Benson basket off of a feed from Zach Fischer and Benson’s first 3 of the game.

A Benson basket followed by a Firle bucket moved the Eagles to an 85-72 lead before the Trojans, who had upset Redwood Valley Saturday to get to the title game, outscored New Ulm 12-4 to cut the lead to cut the lead to 89-84 with 15 seconds left in the game where Benson sank four charity shots to seal the win.

“They are a great team and are well-coached,” Benson said. “But we rose to the occasion and we got the job done.”

Dennis said that Benson had the big night as his teammates found him, especially in the second half when Benson cashed in 27 of his 43 points.

“He did a lot of nice things tonight offensively,” Dennis said about Benson. “He put himself in good spots — his teammates put him in good spots — and he made things happen. Tonight was a Colton effort right there.”


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