BOYS BASKETBALL: Eagles win sloppy gameSLAYTON — The temperature outside in Slayton on Thursday night was below zero.
By: Matt Huss, Worthington Daily Globe
SLAYTON — The temperature outside in Slayton on Thursday night was below zero.
The shooters inside Murray County Central High School’s gymnasium were just as cold.
Murray County Central’s boys’ basketball team shot just 26.3 percent from the field in a 57-42 loss to Southwest Christian.
The Rebels went just 3-for-12 shooting, committed 12 turnovers and scored 14 points in the first 14:23.
But the Eagles weren’t much better.
In the same span, Southwest Christian went just 6-for-20 shooting, committed 12 turnovers and also scored just 14 points.
The Eagles, however, warmed up in a hurry. They hit 5 of 7 field goals and 8 of 8 free throws in the final 3:37 of the first half, finishing on a 19-2 run to take a 33-16 lead into the intermission.
Junior forward Spencer Mesman led the charge, scoring seven points in the final 1:58.
“It kind of took us a while,” Southwest Christian coach Jamie Pap said. “We weren’t hitting from the outside.
“We played through it, and it went pretty good after we got going.”
It took a literal knockout to motivate the Eagles to deliver the figurative knockout.
Less than a minute after Zach Huisken made a layup to break the 14-14 tie, the 6-foot-8 freshman center was undercut as he went up for an offensive rebound. He fell hard and slammed his head against the court. The blow knocked him unconscious.
“Even before the play was dead, I was running onto the floor because I knew he was out cold; he was knocked out,” Pap said. “I was real nervous.”
Surrounded by trainers and concerned teammates, Huisken finally regained consciousness and left for the locker room. He didn’t return to the game, but the sequence of events served as a wake-up call for the Eagles.
Southwest Christian went 3-for-3 from the floor and 8-for-8 from the free-throw line without their freshman phenom during a 13-0 run to end the half.
“We rely on (Huisken) quite a bit now, so all of a sudden, when he gets hurt, everybody stepped up and played a lot better,” Pap said. “We got aggressive, had fewer turnovers and did a better job taking care of the ball.”
The Eagles kept turning up the heat with their defense.
MCC had trouble handling Southwest Christian’s aggressive full-court defense and committed 16 first-half turnovers.
The Eagles’ pressure not only forced the Rebels into bad passes and decisions, it also appeared to disorient them.
Trailing by 22 points just over four minutes into the second half, the Rebels called a timeout. After the short break, they inbounded from in front of their own bench against the kind of man-to-man pressure the Eagles initiated the entire game after successful offensive trips. After inbounding the ball, MCC’s players raced the wrong way and attacked the wrong basket.
“That had a lot to do with it,” Pap said, referring to his team’s consistent press being the reason for the Rebels’ error in direction. “Everybody knows that if you’re going to play Southwest, we’re going to put pressure on you full-court, and it paid off for us tonight.”
The Eagles forced 28 turnovers and held MCC to just 10-for-38 shooting in the game.
“Our defense got us going — full-court pressure,” Pap said. “We got turnovers for layups.”
The Eagles shot 35.2 percent (18-for-51) in the game and committed 24 turnovers against MCC’s full-court press and 2-3 zone defense. But their run late in the first half, along with their hot shooting from the free-throw line (15-for-16), was the difference.
“The guys just started relaxing and playing,” Pap said. “We were really young coming into this year — not much experience. Now we’re finally getting to the point where a couple of guys are taking charge. It just took 10 minutes into the game for them to do it.”
Nicholas Pfeifle had 14 points and five rebounds, and Corey Vis had 10 points to lead Southwest Christian. Mesman finished with nine points, and Derek Tinklenberg added six.
Huisken had six points and five rebounds before leaving.
Kyle DeLong had a game-high 19 points, and Mark Bau added 11 points and seven rebounds for MCC (2-7, 2-4), which didn’t have another player score more than three points.
SWC 33 24 — 57
MCC 16 26 — 42
SWC (3FG-2FG-FT-TP): Vis 2-2-0-10, T. Tinklenberg 0-1-4-6, Van Schepen 0-2-0-4, Mesman 1-2-2-9, J. Tinklenberg 0-1-0-2, C. Huisken 1-0-0-3, Pfeifle 2-1-6-14, Stroeh 0-0-3-3, Z. Huisken 0-3-0-6. Totals: 6-11-15-57.
MCC (3FG-2FG-FT-TP): DeLong 0-5-9-19, Wieneke 0-1-0-2, Lewis 0-0-3-3, Streff 0-1-0-2, Bly 0-1-0-2, Bau 2-2-1-11, Lassen 1-0-0-3. Totals: 3-10-13-42.