3A boys basketball: Rebels survive first-round clash with W-WG
WORTHINGTON — Grant Everson found the right time to regain his touch from the free-throw line.
Everson made all 12 of his foul shots as Murray County Central held off a furious Westbrook-Walnut Grove comeback attempt for a 69-64 victory Saturday in a Section 3A South boys basketball game.
The junior guard scored 22 points, including two key free throws in the final 30 seconds to give the fourth-seeded Rebels their third victory over the fifth-seeded Chargers this season.
“I’ve been struggling all year with free throws,” Everson said. “It was finally nice to get a good game and not miss a free throw, it felt good.”
Grant Rohrer scored a team-high 24 points and grabbed eight rebounds for the Rebels.
“We just came in confident and ready to play,” Rohrer said. “We beat them twice during the regular season and we knew they were gunning for us. But we kept our composure and kept playing hard and finished the game.”
The script was a similar one for the two teams. Just like a previous matchup, MCC jumped out to a big halftime lead. On Saturday, Seth Bass hit a pair of three-pointers as the Rebels led 37-21.
“It was kind of a reenactment of our game with them a couple of weeks ago where we were up big at halftime and they came storming back in the second half and that made it a good ball game,” MCC head coach Tim Bobeldyk said. “Give Westbrook credit, they came back and fought and made a game out of it. Give our guys credit, we didn’t panic in that situation.”
W-WG continued to chip away at the lead and back-to-back three-pointers by Matt Otto and Shane Buchman cut the deficit to five, 43-38.
The Grants — Everson and Rohrer — scored 12 of the next 14 points for the Rebels, who led by six with six minutes remaining. But Buchman (game-high 29 points) hit three 3-pointers for W-WG and Alex Knutson (15 points) hit a triple as the Chargers were within one, 61-60, with two minutes remaining.
“In the other game, we had a big lead in the first half, too, and they fight until the way end. No surprise, they are a good team,” Everson said. “You just try to slow the game down and make them foul or get a good shot and just get it inside to Rohrer and just work the ball.”
And the Rebels went to their 6-4 sophomore Rohrer. He completed a three-point play, pushing the lead to 64-60 with 1:45 to play.
“Everson and everyone else, they slow the game down for us and keep our composure,” Rohrer said. “We get into it and start playing hard and we can’t come down the floor and take a quick shot and miss. We have to work the ball around, find a way to score and keep our composure.”
After a MCC free throw, Knutson hit a layup as the game was back to one possession. However, Everson made two free throws with 21 seconds left and W-WG wouldn’t get closer as MCC escaped with a five-point victory.
“We got out to any early lead and we took quick shots,” Everson said. “We need to slow it down more when we have a lead. Free throws toward the end of the game helped us. Buchman hit a couple big threes at the end and it was a lot closer than it should have been, but we pulled it out.”
The Chargers, who finish their season 9-15, were two of six from the free-throw line. MCC was 26 of 37 from the charity stripe.
“We’re really proud of our kids for the way they stuck with it and dealt with the first-half adversity and continued to battle throughout the second half and give ourselves a chance to play an exciting game down the stretch,” W-WG head coach Derek Jenniges said. “I thought our guys really fought hard, that’s all I can really say. That’s all we can ask for at this time of year, to play as hard as they can and sometimes it goes your way and sometimes it doesn’t.”
The Rebels will play top-seeded Southwest Christian at 6 p.m. Tuesday in Worthington. Bobeldyk has a simple strategy going against the defending state champions.
“Score more points than them,” he said.
Westbrook-Walnut Grove 21 64
Murray County Central 37 69
W-WG (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) Joel 1-0-0-32, Christians 1-1-0-5, A. Knutson 2-4-1-15, Buchman 4-8-1-29, M. Otto 2-0-0-6, R. Knutson 0-3-0-6. Totals 10-16-2-64.
MCC (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) Kluis 0-0-1-1, Ostman 0-3-1-7, Bass 2-0-0-6, Everson 2-2-12-22, Boerboom 1-0-6-9, Rohrer 0-9-6-24. Totals 5-14-26-69.