BOYS BASKETBALL: Dragons outlast QuasarsOKABENA — Receiving a sparkling 40-point performance from senior guard Brian Tjepkes Friday night, the Adrian Dragons pulled away late and earned a thrilling 66-54 victory over the Southwest Star Concept Quasars in a key Red Rock Conference boys’ basketball game.
By: Lucas Knutson, Worthington Daily Globe
OKABENA — Receiving a sparkling 40-point performance from senior guard Brian Tjepkes Friday night, the Adrian Dragons pulled away late and earned a thrilling 66-54 victory over the Southwest Star Concept Quasars in a key Red Rock Conference boys’ basketball game.
Tjepkes, who scored 22 of his points in the second half, nailed eight 3-pointers, five 2-point baskets and was 6-for-7 from the free-throw line, as he set the Dragons’ single-game scoring record and sparked Adrian (8-2, 6-1) to its fifth straight victory.
“This was exactly what we expected, as we knew all week long that this was going to be the type of game that wouldn’t be decided until the last two or three minutes,” Adrian head coach Cory Van Briesen said after the game. “We had a great team effort and played well defensively, but the individual scoring performance from Brian really gave us a big lift tonight. He’s a great shooter, and he was certainly fun to watch tonight.”
SSC (5-4, 3-3), which lost its fourth straight game after starting the season 5-0, had several leads throughout the first half and during the initial nine minutes of the second half. The Quasars were within one point (53-52) with about five minutes to play, but Adrian scored 13 of the game’s final 15 points to secure the victory.
“I was very proud with our overall team effort, and I was pleased with many of the things that we did tonight,” SSC head coach Tim Owen said. “We played with a lot more intensity than we did in our previous two games, and we also rebounded very well. It was a good all-around game by both teams — an intense, fun high school basketball game to be a part of.”
Senior Ben Scheevel, who scored 15 of his team-high 23 points in the first half, went 10-for-12 from the free-throw line and collected 11 rebounds, was the Quasars’ catalyst for much of the game. Seniors William Cranston (five assists), Logan Glaser and Jeremy Crocker were among the other Quasars to make key contributions and finished with eight points apiece.
A nifty basket in the lane from Crocker gave the Quasars a 47-46 lead at the nine-minute mark of the second half, but Tjepkes — who had just knocked down two straight 3-pointers a couple of possessions earlier — fired in a trey from the top of the key while falling down and getting fouled. He sank the ensuing free throw to complete a 4-point play and give the Dragons a 50-47 lead with 8:50 to go.
Dragon senior Jordan Kontz (five steals, three assists) then came up with a quick-handed theft, kept his dribble alive and found Tjepkes for a transition 3-pointer from the left wing — giving the Dragons a 53-47 lead and forcing SSC to call a timeout with 7:55 remaining.
SSC, though, scored five straight points to trim the gap to one (53-52). Scheevel sank a free throw and later drove through the lane for a bucket before junior Alex Collin (five points) meshed a turnaround jumper from the left block with 5:51 left.
Tjepkes (six rebounds, four shot blocks, three assists) made a free throw a minute later, and with 4:16 to play, he netted a pull-up 12-footer in transition to push Adrian’s lead to 56-52.
Senior Danny Parsley, who scored 10 of his 13 points in the second half and was 7-for-8 on free throws, scored the game’s next four points — including a 3-pointer on the right wing to increase the Dragons’ advantage to 60-52 at the 2:50 mark.
Scheevel answered with a steal and two free throws to make it 60-54 with 2:12 left, but Tjepkes hit a 12-foot leaner in the lane at the 1:51 mark, and Parsley netted four straight free throws in the last minute to seal Adrian’s 12-point victory.
“This is a big win for us,” Van Briesen said. “SSC was giving us some problems with their quickness, and we switched to a zone defense late in the second half — which seemed to help us slow them down a little bit.”
The Quasars’ team quickness helped them jump out to a 4-0 lead 1:11 into the game, as a slick press-breaker basket (Scheevel to Crocker to Cranston) and a smooth driving hoop by senior Kirk McBreen gave SSC the early edge.
Tjepkes hit his first 3-pointer of the night, and junior Nate Reyne (seven points, six rebounds) had a pair of baskets — including a layup off a steal — to give the Dragons their first lead (7-6) with 14:26 remaining.
Glaser delivered a 12-footer to put SSC up 8-7 a minute later, but Tjepkes dialed in a pair of 3-pointers from the top of the key, and Reyne scored on the left block to help the Dragons open up a 15-10 lead with 10:11 left.
SSC responded with a 7-0 run, started by a Glaser 3-pointer from out top and capped by back-to-back baskets by Scheevel to put the Quasars ahead 17-15 at the 6:40 mark.
A 13-4 surge by the Dragons made it a seven-point game (28-21) four minutes later, as Tjepkes scored nine points and passed to freshman Kyle Kilgore (four points) for an inbounds basket in that stretch, and senior Justin Weidert had an assist and a 10-foot basket along the left baseline.
Another 7-0 run by SSC tied the game at 28 with 1:20 to play, as Scheevel hit two free throws and canned a 3-pointer from the left wing off a cross-court skip pass by Cranston for the first five points in that span. Glaser then had a driving hoop to even the score.
Adrian scored five of the next seven points and took a 33-30 halftime lead, but SSC regained the lead (34-33) with consecutive baskets from Scheevel and Crocker to open the second half.
Crocker scored again by hitting a 17-footer from the right baseline, and Cranston came up with a steal and a layup to help the Quasars take a 38-34 lead with 16:07 left on the clock.
Adrian tied it at 38 with 13:17 left, and the margin stayed within three points over the next five minutes. Tjepkes hit a pair of 3-pointers to lift the Dragons in that sequence, while putback baskets from Cranston and Collin helped keep the Quasars in contention.
SSC took its 47-46 lead following Crocker’s basket with nine minutes remaining, but Tjepkes responded with the two big long-distance shots — including the 4-point play — to put Adrian up 53-47 and set up the final eight minutes of play.
Adrian visits Russell-Tyler-Ruthton Tuesday, while SSC plays at Luverne Monday.
Adrian 33 33 — 66
SSC 30 24 — 54
AHS (3PT-2PT-FT-TP): Tjepkes 8-5-6-40, Parsley 2-0-7-13, Weidert 0-1-0-2, Reyne 0-3-1-7, Kilgore 0-2-0-4. Totals: 10-11-14-66.
SSC (3PT-2PT-FT-TP): McBreen 0-1-0-2, Scheevel 1-5-10-23, Cranston 0-3-2-8, Glaser 1-2-1-8, Crocker 0-4-0-8, Collin 0-2-1-5. Totals: 2-17-14-54.