MONTEVIDEO — The Montevideo boys basketball team knew ACGC would be aggressive offensively in the teams’ West Central South Conference game Friday night.
But the Thunder Hawks believed they could play that style, too, while at the same time slowing down the high-energy Falcons.
Belief is now knowledge.
The Thunder Hawks’ Jesse Brace scored 32 points and Montevideo led from start to finish in a 77-62 victory that leaves the two teams tied atop the conference standings at 5-1.
“We knew how they play and we were going to be aggressive right back that them,” said Brace, who scored 19 second-half points to help the T-Hawks build on their 10-point halftime lead. “We had to win the boards and we knew we were stronger and faster than them and we wanted to go right at them.”
The Thunder Hawks improved to 5-1 in the WCS and 7-3 overall while ACGC dropped to 5-1 and 9-3. The Falcons played essentially their third straight game without 6-foot-3 senior Jacob Belgum, their top defensive player. Without Belgum’s presence inside, the T-Hawks held a 53-20 rebounding edge, which included 25 offensive boards.
“He’s a big guy and our best defender and we could have used him because it got rough in there,” said ACGC head coach Terry Miller. “Even though it’s only one guy out of your lineup, now you have everybody in new roles. Not to use that as an excuse, but it hurts your confidence and your rotations.”
ACGC guard Dylan Hoerchler scored 26 points and had 8 assists and Taylor Larson had 13 points, 9 rebounds and 4 steals. The Falcons’ firepower was evident late in the first half, during which they trailed by as many as 16 points. Hoerchler and Larson hit consecutive 3-pointers in the final 90 seconds to trim the lead to 34-24 at the half.
“It happens really quick with them so you have to control the pace and I thought we did that,” said Montevideo head coach Dan Douglas. “We had to pick out places to run. They’re aggressive with the ball so you have to adjust and try to take away their lanes, slow the game down and choose our places to run, and we did that.”
Montevideo’s inside game helped loosen up the perimeter for Brace and Jordan Thompson, who scored all 15 of his points in the second, all coming on 3-point shots. The T-Hawks also limited themselves to 12 turnovers and had assists on 17 of their 27 baskets.
Monte didn’t shoot well, hitting 39 percent from the field, but the T-Hawks held the Falcons to just 35 percent shooting both inside and outside the 3-point arc.
The game went a long ways to cementing the T-Hawks’ identity and confidence, which came into the season minus three 1,000-point caliber players from last year’s 22-6 team that won the WCS with an 11-1 record.
“This was a big game for that,” Douglas said. “We know ACGC is a good team and the guys reacted well to that situation.”
“We have a lot of energy and enthusiasm and I think we meshed right away as a team,” Brace said. “We have a natural chemistry and that contributes to our success.”
Montevideo 77, ACGC 62
ACGC 24 38 -- 62
Montevideo 34 33 -- 77
ACGC -- 20-57 FG (7-20 3-pt); 13-14 FT; 20 rebounds; 20 fouls ...
Scoring: Dylan Hoerchler 26, Jordan Nelson 2, Taylor Larson 13, David
Kinzler 5, Austin Mueller 2, Logan Jacobs 4, Colton Minnick 10 ...
3-point shots: Larson 3, Hoerchler 3, Kinzler 1 ... Rebound leaders:
Larson 9, Minnick 3, Jacobs 3 ... Assist leaders: Hoerchler 8, Larson
3 ... Steals leaders: Larson 4, Kinzler 2
MONTEVIDEO -- 27-69 FG (9-23 3-pt); 14-16 FT; 52 rebounds; 15 fouls
... Scoring: Jesse Brace 32, Jordan Thompson 15, Ryan Maroney 9, Troy
Diggins 8, Spencer Hildahl 7, Ricky Schmitz 4, Austin Hansen 2 ...
3-point shots: Brace 3, Thompson 5, Maroney 1 ... Rebound leaders:
Brace 12, Hildahl 9, Maroney 8 ... Assist leaders: Maroney 8 ...
Steals leaders: Thompson 1, Maroney 1, Diggins 1, Jeff Rohloff 1