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Kerry Collins, Published March 27 2009

Pelican showing off its balance

MINNEAPOLIS – Pelican Rapids proved on Wednesday that it wasn’t a two-man show.

Now the Vikings are hoping to take that show into the state title game.

After a day off on Thursday, Pelican Rapids takes on Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted at 8 p.m. today in the semifinals of the Minnesota Class 2A state boys basketball tournament.

“We really showed what senior leadership could do (on Wednesday), and now we want to keep it going,” Vikings coach Brad Strand said. “We overcame some adversity, and I think we played very well as a team.”

Pelican Rapids beat New London-Spicer 71-56 in the first round to advance, despite missing standout Tydan Storrusten for a chunk of the game.

Storrusten’s state tournament experience started about an hour later than he would’ve liked, as he sat out the final 14 minutes, 42 seconds of the first half with three fouls.

“Not exactly the start to the state tournament I envisioned,” Storrusten said with a laugh. “But what could I do? I was on the bench, so I had to lead with my mouth instead of contributing on the court.”

Storrusten bounced back in the second half, finishing with 15 points and five assists in the win.

Add Jan-Erik Lindberg’s 20 points on six 3-pointers, and spectacular defensive efforts from Eric Shulstad Matt Skow-Anderson, and the Vikings moved to 31-0.

“That defense is what separates this group from some our teams the past couple years. We’ve really bought into it,” Storrusten said. “And I was so pumped up for Jan. He just kept hitting 3s.”

It was a typical night for Shulstad statistically, but he had to do some extra things on the way to his 16 points, 12 boards and five blocks.

“We had Eric playing point guard bringing the ball up, and then he would go down and block their big guy on the other end,” Strand said. “His game is always there, no matter what we ask him to do.”

Skow-Anderson was also always there on defense, blocking four shots and piling up seven steals.

“I don’t know how many passes he deflected, but it was a ton,” Strand said. “He can be everywhere, too.

“That’s the kind of defense we need to keep getting.”

Storrusten said he won’t be timid in tonight’s contest because of this shaky start on Wednesday.

“I’m just going to keep playing the way I always have been, and I hope I don’t end up on the bench right away again,” Storrusten said. “We all just have to keep playing our game.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Kerry Collins at (701) 241-5548.

Collins’ blogs can be found at www.areavoices.com