Chargers sprint past Quasars in key RRC gameOKABENA — Junior Jon LeBoutillier scored a game-high 20 points and sparked a 13-0 run with nine straight points midway through the second half Friday night, leading the Westbrook-Walnut Grove Chargers to a key 60-53 victory over the Southwest Star Concept Quasars in an action-packed matchup featuring two undefeated Red Rock Conference boys’ basketball teams.
By: Lucas Knutson, Worthington Daily Globe
OKABENA — Junior Jon LeBoutillier scored a game-high 20 points and sparked a 13-0 run with nine straight points midway through the second half Friday night, leading the Westbrook-Walnut Grove Chargers to a key 60-53 victory over the Southwest Star Concept Quasars in an action-packed matchup featuring two undefeated Red Rock Conference boys’ basketball teams.
W-WG (8-0, 4-0) remains unbeaten with the victory and is still tied atop the conference standings with Ellsworth. SSC (5-1, 3-1) is now a game back of the leaders.
“We expected this to be a good game, and both teams played hard and did some things well at times,” W-WG head coach Derrick Jenniges said after the game. “We did a good job in the second half of building a 15-point lead, but SSC came right back and made things exciting. We were able to get a couple stops, though, and finally made some free throws at the end.”
Leading 39-37 with 13:22 left in the second half, the Chargers scored 13 straight points over the next 5:50 to take a commanding 15-point lead (52-37) at the 7:32 mark. Senior Justin Knakmuhs (seven points) scored the book-end baskets in that stretch, as he powered inside for a hoop and later received a post-to-post pass from senior Jace Jarmer (14 points, 12 rebounds, four shot blocks) for a bucket.
LeBoutillier scored nine straight points in-between those baskets, as he hit a free throw and scored in transition before drilling back-to-back 3-pointers on consecutive possessions to help the Chargers pull ahead.
A steal and layup by senior Josh Merrick later put W-WG up 54-39 with 6:16 left, but SSC answered with a 13-2 surge to make it a four-point game (56-52) with 2:27 remaining.
Five straight free throws (two by senior Ben Scheevel, one by senior Kirk McBreen and two by senior Logan Glaser) and a putback basket by senior William Cranston (15 points, seven rebounds) started that rally and made it 54-46 at the 3:21 mark.
After a basket by W-WG junior Mason Comnick (eight points, six assists) made it 56-46, nine seconds later, Glaser hit a mid-range shot, and senior Cory Pelzel scored a tough basket in transition after a steal and diving tip ahead by Cranston.
Scheevel then came up with a steal and was fouled on a 3-point attempt. He made two free throws to make it 56-52.
“That was a nice stretch of basketball from our guys,” SSC head coach Tim Owen said after the game. “It was a physical game, and we made some free throws and came up with some steals to get back in the game.”
W-WG had chances to extend its lead over the next couple of possessions, but four missed free throws kept the score at a four-point spread with less than a minute remaining.
SSC had a nice chance to score with about 50 seconds left, but the Quasars couldn’t convert. Comnick and Glaser then exchanged a free throw apiece, and the Chargers had a 57-53 lead with 38.1 seconds left.
Senior Derek Eichner (seven points, six rebounds) was fouled and sank a free throw four seconds later to put W-WG up 58-53. Jarmer then came up with a steal on the ensuing possession, was fouled and hit two free throws to make it 60-53 with 26.7 seconds left — sealing the victory for the Chargers.
“A win is a win, and we’ll take this one,” Jenniges said. “We wanted to do a better job of getting the ball inside in the second half. We did get some baskets down low, and that helped open up the outside — and Jon’s back-to-back 3-pointers really gave us a boost.”
The first half was similar to the second half, as W-WG used a 12-0 run to build a 16-7 lead before SSC came back with a 12-2 burst to go up 19-18.
SSC jumped out to leads of 3-0, 5-2 and 7-4 behind a game-opening 3-pointer by McBreen (12 points) on the right wing, an 18-footer in the left corner from Cranston and a nifty runner off the glass by McBreen at the 15:21 mark.
W-WG, though, scored the next 12 points to go up 16-7 with 9:49 left. LeBoutillier and Comnick started the scoring in that span with a 3-pointer apiece, and Jarmer scored on an up-and-under move on the left block and later received a dish from Comnick to score again.
Jarmer scored one more basket — this one on a putback chance — but McBreen put the brakes on the Chargers’ run with a pair of free throws at the nine-minute mark to make it 16-9.
Cranston then scored an offensive-rebound basket, and junior Alex Collin meshed a 12-footer along the right baseline to cut W-WG’s lead to three (16-13) with 7:39 remaining.
After a pair of free throws from Comnick, Scheevel (eight points, eight rebounds) netted two free throws and fed Pelzel for a basket with an inbounds feed under the hoop.
McBreen nailed an 18-footer from the right wing to give the Quasars a 19-18 lead with 5:19 left, but the Chargers regained the lead and went up 31-26 at halftime.
Eichner hit a 3-pointer, and senior Michael Jarmer scored on a baseline leaner to help the Chargers late in the first half.
SSC came back strong to start the second half, as McBreen knocked down a pull-up jumper from the free-throw line, Scheevel dropped in a running jumper along the right baseline, and Cranston scored on a transition feed from Pelzel and stroked a 3-pointer in the right corner to pull the Quasars to within four (39-35) at the 14-minute mark.
Senior Andrew Rossow then penetrated-and-kicked to Glaser (11 points) for a 17-footer on the right baseline, as SSC trailed 39-37 with 13:22 left.
That’s when W-WG went on its 13-0 run to go up by 15 and set up the exciting late-game action.
“We need to do a better job of taking care of the ball and being a little more physical,” Owen said. “We did take care of the ball a little better in the second half, and that helped us. W-WG, though, gave us some problems with their physical style of play in the half-court situations.”
W-WG plays at Lincoln HI Tuesday, while SSC hosts Mountain Lake Christian Monday for Parent’s Night.
W-WG 31 29 — 60
SSC 26 27 — 53
W-WG (3PT-2PT-FT-TP): Ma. Comnick 1-1-3-8, J. Jarmer 0-5-4-14, LeBoutillier 3-4-3-20, Merrick 0-1-0-2, Eichner 1-1-2-7, M. Jarmer 0-1-0-2, Knakmuhs 0-3-1-7. Totals: 5-16-13-60.
SSC (3PT-2PT-FT-TP): McBreen 1-3-3-12, Pelzel 0-2-1-5, Scheevel 0-1-6-8, Cranston 1-6-0-15, Glaser 0-3-5-11, Collin 0-1-0-2. Totals: 2-16-15-53.