SWC improves to 14-0 with win over tough MLA/C squad
EDGERTON -- Southwest Christian boys basketball coach Jamie Pap is almost begging for a tough game. Undefeated in mid-January, he said this week that he’s trying to schedule another game with a strong opponent so that if the Eagles take a loss this year, it’ll happen before sectionals begin.
On paper, Southwest might have had one of those tough games against Mountain Lake Area/Comfrey on Thursday night. But it didn’t happen. The Eagles defeated the Wolverines 89-62 to improve to 14-0 on the year.
Southwest Christian, the No. 4 Class A team in Minnesota, took on a 10-1 MLA/C squad that, like the Eagles, hadn’t lost a Red Rock Conference game this season. But after hanging close to the host Eagles at halftime, 43-33, the Wolverines were outscored 46-29 in the second half.
“Give Mountain Lake credit,” said Pap. “They’re physical. That was the most physical game we had all year. I think it was good for the guys to get a game like that … We just really attacked rebounding on both ends of the floor.”
Mountain Lake Area/Comfrey won the state Nine-Man football championship this year. But their physicality couldn’t overcome a Southwest Christian team that pounded the boards, played outstanding team defense and, on offense, rained down 3-pointers -- in short, pretty much a typical Eagles performance.
In all, the home team connected on 10 3-point shots for the game, compared to just four for MLA/C. Kade Fey, a 6-5 senior, converted four 3s en route to 21 points. Jacob Van Dam made three 3s -- some from well beyond the arc -- and also scored 21 points. Hunter Vander Haar added 12 points. And Avery Pater, while playing his usual standout defense, added nine more counters.
For a big man, Fey shoots some very smooth long-range jumpers. He’s also part of a team with parts that work together like a Swiss watch -- a team that makes and receives a regular stream of beautifully-timed passes.
“We always know where each other is. That helps,” Fey said. “We always practice hard. Coach always pushes us as hard as he can. ‘Cuz that’s how we’re going to get better. It’s actually harder for me to score sometimes against my teammates.”
A pair of 3-point shots by Fey gave Southwest Christian a 21-7 lead in the first quarter on Thursday, forcing the Wolverines to burn a time-out to regroup. But though the visitors came to within 36-29 with three minutes till intermission, they didn’t continue their comeback after the second half began. Senior forward Sam Paulson was a strong inside presence for MLA/C in the second half, but he limped off the court with what looked like an ankle sprain with 8:16 to go, and not long after that the Eagles pulled away.
Jordan Toll led Mountain Lake Area/Comfrey with 17 points. Paulson finished with 11.
Coach Pap said he was pleased with his team’s “flow.” He also gave credit to his deep bench, and the fact that on any given night anyone can lead the team in scoring. Case in point: Eagles sophomore Micah Schaap paced SWC in a recent game with 20 points, but against MLA/C he went scoreless while instead routinely setting up teammates with scores of their own.
“I just think we’re getting to be better offensively, so we take better shots every time down the floor,” Pap said of his club.
Mountain Lake Area/Comfrey 33 62
Southwest Christian 43 89