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Battle Lake moves to 20-0 with win over Pelican Rapids

Tyler Ukkelberg of Battle Lake and Ryan Bruggeman chase a loose ball Saturday at Concordia College in Moorhead. Photos by Dave Wallis / Forum News Service

MOORHEAD — The finishing touch on Battle Lake’s 81-71 boys basketball win over Pelican Rapids on Saturday at Concordia College was as fierce as the Battlers’ performance.

Daniel Marso’s dunk with 24 seconds remaining was the exclamation point for Battle Lake.

As Marso came down from gripping the rim, the No. 4 team in Minnesota Class 1A moved up to 20-0 overall and knocked off its fourth Class 2A team.

Battle Lake coach Dan Peterka is only somewhat impressed.

“We’re OK,” Peterka said with a shrug. “We’re getting there. As a coach, you always see some things you can work on. You’re always on your toes and expecting the best punch from everyone you’re playing. I like the team we have though.”

Nothing symbolizes Battle Lake basketball more than the first 15 points of Saturday’s game for the Battlers. All five Battlers starters scored and, before Pelican Rapids could blink, the Vikings were down 15-6.

“They’ve bought into what we’re trying to do,” Peterka said. “They’re a talented group and there’s not a lot of selfish on this team. We don’t care who scores, as long as we score.”

Battle Lake has four players averaging double-digit points. Saturday, all five starters went for double digits. Tyler Ukkelberg had 15 points and 15 rebounds, Petric VanErp netted 13 points, Marso scored 14 points, Nick Trosdahl added 20 points and 10 rebounds, and Tony Ukkelberg dropped 10 points.

“We’re all just out there, every game, working our butts off,” Trosdahl said. “It can be any guy doing anything. It can be any given guy on any given night to step up.”

On every given night against Battle Lake any opponent has its hands full with the Battlers. Pelican Rapids coach Doug Bruggeman summed up Battle Lake by simply saying the Battlers do everything well. He couldn’t put his finger on anything specific, but let the 20-0 record speak for itself.

“The undefeated record is for real,” Bruggeman said. “They beat Perham, they took it to us. They are so athletic. The number of blocks they got on us and the offensive rebounds and putbacks were huge. They are just really good.”

Battle Lake came into Saturday’s game with the best points-against average in the state at 40.1. It’s easy to see why, as the Battlers had 11 blocks from four different players.

Pelican Rapids guard Ryan Bruggeman, however, squashed any hopes of Battle Lake’s points-against average staying the same, as the senior scored 36 points, 27 of which came in the second half.

“You’re not going to hold Pelican Rapids to 40 points,” Peterka said. “Bruggeman is such a good player and so hard to stop. He’s going to get his points. We need good games like this. You want to test yourself against the best teams in the area, and Pelican Rapids has proven to be that over the years.”

Pelican Rapids (15-5) answered Battle Lake’s 15-6 run to open the game with a 12-0 run of their own. The Battlers answered with a 6-0 run and never trailed the rest of the game, taking a 35-30 lead into halftime.

The Battlers opened the second half on a 15-7 run, pushing their lead to as many as 13 in the second half. A Bruggeman jumper cut the lead to 73-66 with 1 minute, 13 seconds to go, but Battle Lake answered with an 8-0 run to shut the door.

BL (20-0): Ty. Ukkelberg 7 0-0 15, P. VanErp 6 1-3 13, Marso 4 3-4 14, Trosdahl 8 4-7 20, To. Ukkelberg 3 2-2 10, A. VanErp 2 0-0 6, Rogness 1 1-2 3. Totals 31 11-18 81.

PR (15-5): Bruggeman 15 3-4 36, Haugen 4 2-2 10, Sillerud 6 1-2 15, Gorton 3 0-0 6, Mackner 0 1-2 1, Taylor 1 0-0 3. Totals 29 7-10 71.

Halftime: BL 35, PR 30. 3-pointers: Bruggeman 3, Sillerud 2, Taylor 1, Ty. Ukkelberg 1, Marso 3, To. Ukkelberg 2, A. VanErp 2. Total fouls: BL 12, PR 14. Rebounds: BL 40 (Ty. Ukkelberg 15, Trosdahl 10, P. VanErp 8), PR 29 (Bruggeman 9,).

Chris Murphy

Chris Murphy is a sports reporter for the Forum. He's covered high school and college sports in Chicago, North Dakota and Minnesota since 2009 and, for some reason, has been given awards for doing so.

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