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3A boys basketball: Southwest Christian runs away from Edgerton

WORTHINGTON — Leighton Sampson said he and his team wanted to play some strong defense. 

To say Southwest Christian accomplished that might be an understatement.

The Eagles forced 40 turnovers and Sampson scored a game-high 21 points as top-seeded Southwest Christian defeated ninth-seeded Edgerton 77-45 Saturday afternoon in a Section 3A South boys basketball game.

“We wanted to play some strong defense and that was what we did,” Sampson said.

It was the first step toward a third consecutive trip to the state tournament for the Eagles, who were runner ups two years ago and state champs last year.

“We just have to take it one game at a time and do our thing each game and try to get a win,” Sampson said.

Edgerton, which defeated Red Rock Central the night before, struggled to find any offensive rhythm throughout the game.

“I thought the guys were very dialed in defensively,” SWC head coach Jamie Pap said. “Our defense creates our offense. If we’re dialed in defensively, we get some fast breaks and stuff offensively. It took us a little bit to get going, but all in all I think we did that.”

Edgerton scored the first basket of the game, but SWC answered with a 25-3 run to lead by 20 points halfway through the first half.

“It’s the third time we’ve seen them and the results have been the same all three times,” said Edgerton head coach Doug VanKley. “They do a great job defensively. They force you out of things you try to do.”

Nate Pfeifle (12 points) hit a pair of late 3-pointers and Sampson put an exclamation point on the first half with a steal and a two-handed dunk as SWC led 44-21 at the break.

Highlighted by a Clayton Huisken 3-pointer, the Eagles started the second half on a 9-0 run. Later, Sampson scored on a dunk, dished to a teammate and made a free throw to push the lead to 66-27 with 10 minutes remaining in the game. Sampson finished with eight rebounds, seven blocks and four assists.

“My teammates get me the ball pretty well,” Sampson said. “They were trying to put some tough defense on the guards, but they always can get me the ball and I can kick it back out to them or they feed it back down.”

Huisken finished with 17 points, six rebounds, five steals and four assists. Luke Nibbelink had nine points and six steals. Riley Van Klei led EHS with nine points.

The Eagles (23-2) will face fourth-seeded Murray County Central at 6 p.m. Tuesday in Worthington.

“Like Mr. (Cal) Hoekstra, my coach, always told me, getting that first tournament win is always the nicest win to get done and get out of the way,” Pap said. “They had a little bit of jitters to start off. I thought we played OK and got it done.”

Edgerton 44 77

SWC 21 45

EDGERTON (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) Butson 0-2-0-4, Post 1-0-0-3, Vande Steen 0-2-1-5, Lopez 0-2-0-4, Van Klei 1-2-2-9, Niemeyer 0-1-0-2, Sluis 1-2-0-4, Mertens 0-2-0-4, Janssen 0-3-1-7. Totals 3-16-4-45.

SWC (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) Huisken 3-4-0-17, Robinson 0-2-0-4, Pfeifle 2-3-0-12, Van Hulzen 1-1-0-5, Nibbelink 1-3-0-9, Top 1-0-0-3, Gorter 0-1-1-3, DeBoer 0-0-1-1, Stroeh 0-1-0-2, Sampson 0-10-1-21. Totals 8-25-3-77.