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Prep boys basketball: Threes don't quite do it for Windom Area

WINDOM -- The Windom Area Eagles like to shoot their threes.Normally, 14 made three-point shots would be enough to win. But it wasn't on Tuesday night as the visiting Redwood Valley Cardinals nudged the Eagles 69-66 in a Big South Conference boys...

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TIM MIDDAGH/DAILY GLOBE Redwood Valley’s James Pendleton (1) puts up a jumper while Austin Fast (5) of Windom Area goes for the block. The Cardinals hung on for a 69-66 victory.

WINDOM - The Windom Area Eagles like to shoot their threes.
Normally, 14 made three-point shots would be enough to win. But it wasn’t on Tuesday night as the visiting Redwood Valley Cardinals nudged the Eagles 69-66 in a Big South Conference boys basketball clash. The Cards, who are themselves enamored with the long jumper, converted eight three-point tries.
They also hit their free throws down the stretch to stay in front of their pesky rivals. Just as importantly, they made 12 two-point shots compared to Windom Area’s seven. WA’s inability to convert near the basket contrasted with the Cardinals’ ability - especially in the second half - to weave through the Windom Area defense for the occasional inside shot.
“We struggled man-to-man. And they’re so great driving toward the basket. We couldn’t stop that,” said Windom Area head coach Chad Elston.
The loss - which Elston called “not a setback” - dropped the sharpshooting Eagles to 4-2 on the year. Redwood Valley moves to 4-3.
Windom Area led for most of the first half and took a 38-33 lead into intermission. But the Cardinals came out strong in the second half and led by as much as eight points before the Eagles fought back to cut the margin. The hosts trailed 62-59 with 2:09 left on a Sam Huska shot, then at 1:23 Huska hit a three from the corner to pull the Eagles within a point. But at 1:01 Jeff Pfeffer - who made five three-pointers on the night - fouled out and Redwood’s Colten Minkel made his first free throw and missed his second.
On the miss, Redwood Valley was able to grab the rebound, and at :43 James Pendleton meshed two free throws for a 65-62 Cards lead. Then, with the Cardinals pressing, Pendleton stole a pass before Windom Area was able to get to the half-court.
The score was 67-62, Redwood, before the Eagles’ Austin Fast made a three-pointer with 21 seconds left to cut it to 67-65. More Redwood Valley free throws kept the visiting team in front.
“It’s just one play here or there. We made a few bad decisions under pressure down the stretch,” said Elston, “and we didn’t shoot free throws well.”
Windom Area was 9-for-23 at the line. Redwood Valley was 18-for-33, including 10-for-16 in the second half.
The Eagles are not tall. But they have several fine three-point shooters. Pfeffer, a senior guard, finished with 22 points, with three-point connections accounting for 15 of them. Another senior, Sam Huska, had five three-pointers of his own and finished with 24 points. Fast had four three-pointers and 15 points.
Minkel led Redwood Valley with 19 points (and five three-pointers). Pendleton and Mitch Irlbeck scored 12 points apiece and Cade Johnson had 10.
“We tried to go inside today a little more than we usually do. But definitely our strength is outside,” said Elston.
Pfeffer agrees. And, like his coach, he’s fine with that.
“We like to shoot our threes. We like to attack, and when it’s there we’ll shoot it. And if it’s not, we’ll kick it out. Just take what we can,” Pfeffer said after the game. “We believe we can make every shot we can take. We know we’re good shooters, and we’ll take it from there.”
Elston said the loss was definitely not a setback; just another learning experience.
“We gotta keep attacking the basket,” Elston said. “We like our team. We think we can compete with anybody. We just gotta keep trying to get better.”
Redwood Valley 33 69
Windom Area 38 66

Doug Wolter joined the Worthington Globe in December of 1983 as a sports reporter. He later became sports editor, and then news editor and managing editor. In 2006 he moved to Mankato with his wife, Sandy, and served as an editor at the Mankato Free Press. In 2013 he and Sandy returned to Worthington to take up the job of sports editor at The Globe, and they have been in Worthington since.

Doug can be reached at dwolter@dglobe.com.
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