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Boys basketball: Falcons soar past Braves

Tribune photo by Tom Larson Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City’s Taylor Larson drives past Benson’s Dan Lee, center, and Colin Ose on Friday in Benson.

BENSON — The ACGC boys basketball team knew Benson star Matt Ahrndt wouldn’t be on the floor Friday night for their West Central South Conference game. The Falcons didn’t pencil in any changes to their game plan.

“(Falcons coach Terry Miller) called it,” said ACGC guard Dylan Hoerchler, who surpassed 1,000 career points late in the second half. “He said that Benson is still a good team even without Ahrndt. They have a lot of good athletes and we still had to play our best game to beat them.”

Hard to argue that the Falcons didn’t do just that.

Logan Jacobs hit 11 of 13 shots and scored 23 points, Taylor Larson scored 21 points, Hoerchler finished just shy of a triple-double with 17 points, 14 assists and 7 steals and the Falcons blunted a Braves rally early in the second half and rolled to an 83-63 victory at Benson High School.

With the win, the Falcons are 9-5 in the conference and 15-9 overall and they can clinch the WCS championship outright with a win on Tuesday at Yellow Medicine East.

“We just have to go there and take care of business,” Miller said.

The Falcons took care of just about everything the short-handed but resilient Braves could muster up Friday night.

Ahrndt, a first-team Tribune All-Area senior, tore his right ACL in Benson’s 66-60 win over Montevideo Feb. 15. He’ll have surgery in two weeks, miss the baseball season, and said his goal is to be ready to play college football at Concordia-Moorhead.

“It’s a disappointing end to my senior year but my goal is to get back by the fall,” Ahrndt said.

The Braves hung around in the first half, trailing 36-24 at the break. They then blistered the Falcons with 3-pointers early in the second half, getting the ACGC lead down to one, 39-38, in the first 2-1/2 minutes.

But the Falcons switched to a 1-3-1 zone and answered back on the offensive end.

“We knew they were going to compete,” Miller said. “(Benson coach Roger Lindahl) is a competitor; he’s not going to roll over. We’ve struggled at times to answer that bell but we had a good answer tonight.”

Larson hit two of his four 3-point shots, Hoerchler also delivered and the Falcons countered the Braves’ surge with a 14-2 run over the next two minutes that kicked the lead back up to 13 points.

Benson got the margin down to 10 points with 4:50 to play but ACGC ran off 10 straight points in two minutes to ice it.

“Without Ahrndt, we still needed to bring our A game,” Larson said. “We played pretty solid. We had some downs but we overcame that. When they made that run (early in the second half), we just wanted to answer back. We’re the kind of team that doesn’t like to get stomped on.”

Colin Ose led the Braves with 19 points and Daniel Lee hit four 3-pointers and finished with 15 points. Offensively, Benson played well minus their scoring leader but it was a tough order defensively against the Falcons, Lindahl said.

“You lose those three shooters (Hoerchler, Larson, Jacob Belgum) and they’re going to hurt you,” Lindahl said. “You can’t help on them because they’re good inside, too (with Jacobs),. You’ve got to know where they’re at. They drive well and they give it up in the lane.”

ACGC 83, Benson 63

ACGC (9-5 15-9)…….36 47 – 83

Benson (5-9 9-14)….24 39 – 63

ACGC – 33-81 FG (7-20 3-pt); 10-19 FT; 33 rebounds; 18 fouls … Scoring: Jordan Nelson 4, Taylor Larson 21, Jacob Belgum 13, Dylan Hoerchler 17, David Kinzler 5, Logan Jacobs 23 … 3-point shots: Larson 4, Hoerchler 3 … Rebound leaders: Jacobs 7, Belgum 7, Larson 7 … Assist leaders: Hoerchler 14, Belgum 7 … Steal leaders: Hoerchler 7, Kinzler 3.

BENSON – 24-61 FG (7-15 3-pt); 8-19 FT; 31 rebounds; 16 fouls … Scoring: Daniel Lee 15, Zach Maurer 1, Aaron Ahrndt 5, Colin Ose 19, Tyler Krienke 8, Ryan Hampton 1, Jacob Goff 6, Hayden Lee 8 … 3-point shots: D.Lee 4, Ahrndt 1, Krienke 2 … Rebound leaders: Christian Larson 6, Goff 5, Ose 4, Zach Jensen 4 … Assist leaders: Krienke 4 … Steal leaders: D.Lee 2

Tom Larson

Tom Larson is the sports editor of the West Central Tribune.

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