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Boys basketball: Battle Lake plays like fourth-ranked team it is

Battle Lake's sophomore guard Tony Ukkelberg races up the court after getting a steal during the first half of the Battlers' win in Brandon-Evansville on Thursday night. (Eric Morken/Echo Press)

The Brandon-Evansville boys basketball team became another victim of a deep and talented Battle Lake squad on Thursday night as the Battlers improved to 17-0 with a 67-25 win in Brandon.

The fourth-ranked team in Class A took care of the Chargers with a business-like approach. The Battlers used their defense to create some good looks in transition and build an early lead. They quickly pulled away from there, taking a 37-12 lead into the break.

There was no letdown or lack of energy against a Brandon-Evansville team that is now 2-14 on the season. For the Battlers, it was their sixth straight win by at least 30 points.

“We just got to treat everybody the same,” senior guard Dan Marso said after scoring a game-high 15 points. “Come out and play our “A” game every night and work for the win. We like to run with teams we know we can run against, but we know when we have to slow it down, too. This was one team we knew we could get out and run against, steal a couple baskets, and it worked.”

Marso was part of a balanced attack for Battle Lake. All seven of the players who scored for the Battlers had at least six points. Tyler Ukkelberg and Petric VanErp each had 11. Andrew VanErp had nine. Tony Ukkelberg had eight, Eric VanErp seven and Nick Trosdahl finished with six.

“It’s nice to have depth with how much we run,” Tyler Ukkelberg said. “Even guys who are in the best condition get tired every now and then, so you got to have guys who can come in and play and can fill the shoes of the guy they just came in for.”

The Chargers couldn’t keep up with that kind of depth. Skyler Quinn was the only player in double figures for Brandon-Evansville with 10 points. James Huisman also added five, all of those points coming in the first half.

The Chargers knew they were in for a tough task coming into the night against a Battle Lake team that has beaten opponents by almost 35 points per game this season.

“Just play hard and compete against them,” Quinn said of what Brandon-Evansville wanted to do against the Battlers. “They’re pretty good. They’re number four in the state for a reason.”

It’s a group for Battle Lake that seems to be on a mission this year. The Battlers made the state tournament a year ago and finished with a 22-6 record. They returned all five starters this winter. That set the stage for a big season, and they haven’t disappointed to this point.

The Battlers hope the end result is another state tournament appearance, but they aren’t even thinking that far ahead. They say their focus in only on the next game in front of them. They showed that kind of focus on their way to their 17th straight win on Thursday night.

“We got to take one game at a time,” Marso said. “If we get there, we get there. That’s what the goal is, but we just got to take one game at a time and play every night. It would be a big deal [to make it to state], but we can’t be focusing on that right now.”

Eric Morken

Eric Morken is the sports and outdoor editor at the Echo Press and Osakis Review newspapers in Douglas County, MN. Follow him on Twitter at echo_sports.

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