PREP BOYS' BASKETBALL: Eagles top RebelsSLAYTON — Putting on a clinic in terms of moving the ball, hitting the open shot and running the floor Friday night, the Southwest Christian Eagles stormed to an impressive 54-24 halftime lead and earned a huge 89-41 victory over the Murray County Central Rebels in a Red Rock Conference high school boys’ basketball game.
By: Lucas Knutson, Worthington Daily Globe
SLAYTON — Putting on a clinic in terms of moving the ball, hitting the open shot and running the floor Friday night, the Southwest Christian Eagles stormed to an impressive 54-24 halftime lead and earned a huge 89-41 victory over the Murray County Central Rebels in a Red Rock Conference high school boys’ basketball game.
The Class A second-ranked Eagles have now rattled off 15 straight wins and own an overall record of 21-1. SWC is a perfect 16-0 in league play and hosts second-place Fulda (13-3) in the regular-season finale Monday night, looking to wrap up an undefeated conference championship.
SWC put 10 players in the scoring column and buried a total of 13 3-pointers — including 10 in the first half from six different guys — to break the ballgame open. The Eagles’ final stat sheets showed a team total of 25 assists on 31 made baskets.
“We wanted to come out and jump on them early,” SWC head coach Jamie Pap said after the game. “This is normally a tough place to play for us, but we played very well tonight. We played unselfishly and shared the basketball, finding the open man and hitting shots from the perimeter.”
Andrew Top paced SWC with 25 points, five rebounds, five assists and three blocks, while Zach Huisken finished with 19 points, eight rebounds, four assists and three blocks. Both Top and Huisken hit a trio of long-distance shots in the first half, finishing with 13 points apiece prior to intermission.
Eight more Eagles scored between nine and three points — combining for 45 points — to spark a well-balanced performance that spanned all 36 minutes. Point guard Dominic Nibbelink had a steady effort with nine points and nine assists.
Nate Wieneke led MCC (14-8, 10-6) with 14 points, while seven other players scored for the Rebels — giving the game a total of 18 players who scored. MCC, which had a six-game winning streak snapped, was playing without leading scorer Chris Halbur, who was sidelined with a back injury.
Six Eagles hit a 3-pointer in the first half
SWC was in command from the get-go, as Huisken knocked down a jumper from the free-throw line 15 seconds in and later swished a 3-pointer from the top of the key to give the Eagles a 7-2 lead at the 16:13 mark of the first half.
Huisken fired in another trey — this one from the right corner — before Top drilled back-to-back 3-pointers to extend SWC’s lead to 16-7 and force an MCC timeout with 13:43 on the clock.
Wieneke and Trent Carlson each hit a 3-pointer to help keep MCC fairly close early on, while Sam Nysetvold (eight points) scored twice on cuts underneath to aid the Rebels.
SWC, though, methodically opened things up and led 25-12 when Huisken dialed in another 3-pointer from the left wing with 9:09 remaining. Eric Talsma (eight points, three assists) had scored on a post-up move and a baseline drive prior to that, while Top and Nibbelink teamed up on a nifty give-and-go play in transition right after.
Top scored to make it 27-12 and then Huisken threw down a two-handed slam dunk off a loose-ball pickup and assist from Klint Knutson (seven points, five assists) to make it 29-12 with 8:11 to go.
The 3-point barrage continued for the Eagles, with Knutson, Keeran Sampson and Nibbelink all striking from beyond the arc to widen the gap to 38-17 at the 5:56 mark.
Austin Christensen dropped in a 3-pointer, and Mitchell Hegstad supplied a putback basket to account for five of MCC’s final seven points of the half, but SWC scored 16 more points before the break and took a commanding 54-24 lead into the locker room.
Among the late highlights for the Eagles were a left-wing 3-pointer by Damon Vander Maten (Nibbelink assist) and fast-break layups by Knutson and Vander Maten — both off assists from Top, who added another long-range shot with 12 seconds left to put the finishing touches on a dominant first half for SWC.
“We played good team defense, rebounded well and were able to push the ball up the court at times,” Pap said. “We executed well offensively against their 2-3 zone and also when they went man-to-man. Everybody contributed and gave us pretty good balance overall.”
SWC stays in control, widens the gap
The Eagles kept on scoring and getting stops in the second half. Top hit a wide-open 3-pointer 27 seconds in, while Huisken scored on a smooth reverse layup along the baseline to push the spread to 59-24 at the 16:57 mark.
Top added a pair of strong baseline drives for hoops and netted three of four free throws before Huisken scored on the right block, and Leighton Sampson (seven points) pulled up and meshed a 12-foot jumper from the right side to help the Eagles build a 72-32 bulge with 12:23 remaining.
Gabe Vander Veen (free throw and driving basket) and Nate Pfeifle (3-pointer) combined for six points the rest of the way for SWC, as the game was played under running-time rules for the last nine minutes. Leighton Sampson also became the eighth Eagle to hit a 3-pointer in the closing moments.
Sam Beech scored five second-half points for MCC, while Max Whitehead (basket) and Cole Bly (free throw) also scored late for the Rebels.
MCC plays at Mountain Lake/Butterfield-Odin Monday.
SWC 54 35 — 89
MCC 24 17 — 41
SWC (3FG-2FG-FT-TP): Pfeifle 1-0-0-3, Knutson 1-1-2-7, Top 4-4-5-25, Nibbelink 1-2-2-9, K. Sampson 1-0-0-3, Vander Maten 1-1-0-5, Vander Veen 0-1-1-3, Talsma 0-3-2-8, L. Sampson 1-2-0-7, Z. Huisken 3-4-2-19. Totals: 13-18-14-89.
MCC (3FG-2FG-FT-TP): Nysetvold 0-2-4-8, Hegstad 0-1-0-2, Wieneke 2-3-2-14, Christensen 1-0-0-3, Bly 0-0-1-1, Carlson 2-0-0-6, Whitehead 0-1-0-2, Beech 0-2-1-5. Totals: 5-9-8-41.