Boys Basketball: NLS one win away from state
COLLEGEVILLE — The New London-Spicer boys basketball team followed a familiar blueprint in its Section 6AA-South championship game against Eden Valley-Watkins.
For the third straight game, the Wildcats fell behind early, found their defensive legs and more or less shut down their opponent the rest of the way.
On Tuesday, EVW scored the game’s first seven points and took a nine-point edge midway through the first half, but managed just 23 points the rest of the way as the Wildcats cruised into the 6AA championship game 65-43 at St. John’s University.
“You don’t normally want to do that,” said a smiling Brett Olson, who led NLS with 21 points. “But it’s been working for us so far. I don’t know if we want to keep doing that, through.”
The Wildcats improved to 18-10 overall and play Melrose for a shot at the Class AA state tournament on Friday at 6 p.m. at St. Cloud State University.
The Wildcats trailed early in their first subsection game against St. John’s Prep — they trailed at halftime — but came back to win by 23 points.
NLS fell behind 8-0 against Paynesville in the semifinals on Saturday and trailed by nine with 10 minutes left in the first half. The Wildcats won by 17.
“We’ve talked about it and we’ve done different things to address it,” said Wildcats head coach Chad Schmiesing. “We kept playing and didn’t panic. The thing they’ve learned from the situation is if we fall behind early, we’ve got a lot of time left. Just keep doing what we do and hopefully good things will happen.”
As Paynesville did Saturday, the Eagles were hot early. But once the Wildcats ramped up their defense and took command of the boards — they had 66 rebounds to the Eagles’ 27 — fortunes changed quickly.
“Defense was huge and we knew we’d hit some shots eventually,” said Shane Zylstra, who scored 19 points and led the Wildcats with 18 rebounds. “We just started off a little slow the last few games but we know we can pick it up in the second half. We picked up the defense and there was no breathing room for them.”
Olson had 13 rebounds and Tyson Gislason, who joined Olson on the All-6AA-South team, scored 6 points, pulled down 11 boards and blocked 4 shots.
Schmiesing and his staff may not be thrilled with the way the Wildcats have come out of the blocks, they’ve been pleased to see their poise.
“(EVW) shot the ball very well to begin the game and turnovers hurt us,” Schmiesing said. “But we kind of wore them down. We kind of leaned on them a little bit and after that it was a different game.”
NLS 65, EV-Watkins 43
EVW (16-10) .........................24 19 — 43 NLS (18-10) ..........................30 35 — 65
EDEN VALLEY-WATKINS – 17-62 FG (4-20 3-pt); 5-11 FT; 27 rebounds; 16 fouls … Scoring: Reese Jansen 3, Nick Pauly 9, Bret Mattice 13, Austin Schlangen 2, Jared Streit 16 … 3-point shots: Jansen 1, Pauly 1, Mattice 1, Streit 1 … Rebound leaders: Pauly 8, Streit 7, Jansen 4 … Assist leaders: Jansen 3, Alex Nesenson 3 … Steal leaders: Nesenson 3, Streit 3 NEW LONDON-SPICER – 25-57 FG (4-22 3-pt); 11-18 FT; 66 rebounds; 14 fouls … Scoring: Ryan Vraa 4, Adam Essler 4, Jonny DeGeest 5, Shane Zylstra 19, Ethan Bohlsen 2, Devin Fostervold 2, Brett Olson 21, Tyson Gislason 6, Austin Nelson 2 … 3-point shots: Olson 2, Zylstra 1, DeGeest 1 … Rebound leaders: Zylstra 18, Gislason 11, Olson 13 … Assist leaders: Zylstra 3, Essler 3 … Steal leaders: Essler 2, Zylstra 2