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Dragons vanquish Cards, 58-49

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LUVERNE -- A month ago, Adrian and Luverne were each vying for a football title in Class A and Class AA, respectively, at the Prep Bowl.

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Friday night, the two met in a non-conference boys' basketball game, but the contest was just as physical.

The two teams combined for 48 fouls and 49 free throws, as Adrian came out on top, 58-49.

The Dragons had the advantage from the line, shooting 16-of-28 (57 percent), while Luverne was just 11-of-21 (52 percent).

Luverne's Weston Sawtelle (21 points, four rebounds, four steals) started with the first nine points of the game as the Cardinals (1-4) had a 9-0 lead.

Adrian's Brett Springman scored the Dragons (4-2) first points seven minutes into the game, but Luverne's Kyle Heronimus (six points, six rebounds) hit a jump shot to maintain a nine-point lead.

Sawtelle hit a trey from the left wing -- giving Luverne a 14-2 lead.

"We were down early, but we showed a lot of poise by not folding," Adrian head coach Chris Rozell said. "It was 14-2 at one time, and we just couldn't make a bucket."

However, Adrian did not fold and came roaring back. Brian Tjepkes (13 points, six rebounds, three assists) finished a drive in the lane with a floater, and nailed a trey to pull Adrian within eight.

The Dragons continued to battle back as the Luverne offense struggled. After a basket and a 3-pointer from Danny Parsley (18 points, four assists), Adrian was back within a point, 19-18.

"We did good right away," Sawtelle said. "But then our offense started not going good, and we missed a lot of shots."

Out of an Adrian timeout, Nathan Reyne (four points) stole a Luverne pass and converted for a layup on the other end -- giving Adrian its first lead of the night.

"When we started out, it was kind of frustrating," Tjepkes said. "But then we started to score again, so that gave us a little hope that we could come back. When we catch up, then it's a lot of fun."

Jeremy Hoff (11 points, four rebounds) answered with a basket for Luverne as the Cardinals went on a 6-2 run to end the first half, and led 25-22 at half.

"The first half went well; we shot the ball pretty well," Luverne head coach Tom Rops said. "We were getting some good looks and finishing, and Adrian adjusted at halftime and we unfortunately, weren't able to stay with them."

Adrian came out in the second half with a 16-4 run, with Luverne's only baskets from Sawtelle and Heronimus.

Tjepkes started the run for Adrian with a trey to start the half, and followed with a pair of free throws. Brett Oertli (12 points) scored a basket, but Tjepkes hit another trey as Adrian was off and running.

"It continued to be a struggle, but we got the lead and we held on to it," Rozell said. "It was good to see that we could do that."

After another basket from Heronimus and a pair of free throws from Ryan Hoff (six points, nine rebounds, four assists), the Adrian run was stopped for the time being.

"Effort again was very high, but we are just having a hard time scoring in the second half," Rops said. "I was happy with our defensive intensity and it just seems that in the second half, we hit a wall."

The Dragons opened us a 14-point lead at one point, but the Cardinals continued to chip away.

Following a basket from Landon Gacke off a missed free throw, Luverne cut the deficit to nine, and with a layup from Trever Stoffel, Adrian had just a seven-point lead.

Parsley scored the last six points for the Dragons to secure a 58-49 victory.

"We were getting a little tired," Sawtelle said. "We don't have a lot of depth, but we were hanging in there. Hopefully we'll get in shape by the end of the season, when we need it."

After scoring nine points in the first seven minutes and 14 points in the first half, Sawtelle was held to just seven second-half points.

"We did pretty good at shutting down Sawtelle," Tjepkes said. "We knew he was a really good scorer on their team, so we did a pretty good job against him."

For Adrian, the key was limiting the amount of times he was able to get the ball.

"We just rotated about three guys on him and wore him down at the end of the game," Rozell said. "They were able to limit his touches."

Luverne will have a long layoff over Christmas, and will be on the court again Jan. 3 at Central Lyon.

"We're working on some things," Rops said. "Part of it is that Weston gets worn down too. We don't play a lot of kids, and hopefully as the season goes on we'll keep improving and getting better."

With two consecutive victories, the Dragons are entering their layoff with momentum.

"(The win is) pretty good because we get to go into Christmas break and have a little fun with the win," Tjepkes said. "Hopefully we can come back next year and get some more wins."

Adrian will be on the floor again on Jan 4, when the Ellsworth Panthers travel to Adrian.

Adrian 22 36 -- 58

Luverne 25 24 -- 49

Adrian (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) Kontz 0-0-2-2, Springman 0-1-0-2, Tjepkes 3-1-2-13, Parsley 1-5-5-18, Weidert 0-1-0-2, Brake 0-1-3-5, Oertli 0-4-4-12, 0-2-0-4. Totals 4-15-16-58.

Luverne (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) Stoffel 0-1-1-3, R. Hoff 0-0-6-6, J. Hoff 0-5-1-11, Sawtelle 2-6-3-21, Gacke 0-1-0-2, Heronimus 0-3-0-6. Totals 2-16-11-49.

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