UPDATED: Greyhounds finally beat the Spartans
By: Ken Olson, Superior Telegram
DULUTH — Anytime the Superior High School Spartans and Duluth East Greyhounds hook up on the basketball court you can expect a barnburner.
The rivalry became more intense four years ago when Dyami Starks moved from Superior to East Duluth and quickly became the Greyhounds’ leading scorer.
More fuel was added to the fire two years later when Nick Toland followed Starks and became East’s main inside man.
While the two have enjoyed plenty of success on the Minnesota side of the Twin Ports, they haven’t enjoyed any success against Superior, losing seven straight games to the Spartans.
The two former Superiorities got a bit of revenge on Saturday afternoon as East (13-7) defeated the Spartans 89-77 in the DEHS gym.
“Oh my goodness, this feels so good,” Starks said. “We couldn’t get a win against those guys, it was like a hoax. But now we finally beat them. Give them credit, it was a great game, a heated game, and we actually got it. My last time playing against these guys, it’s nice to get the win.”
Starks led East in scoring with 30 points, which included four 3-pointers and 8-of-8 from the free-throw line. Johnny Woodard added 19 points, Nick Toland had 16, Freddy Sievert chipped in with 10 and Montel Chapman had four.
“I thought the difference in the game was foul trouble and defense,” SHS coach Dave Kontny said. “We can’t give up 89 points and expect to beat anybody, let alone East.”
When asked if he was relieved he won’t see Starks and Toland in East uniforms anymore, Kontny said doesn’t matter.
“We still have to play them next year,” Kontny said. “Whether Nick or Dyami are there has no bearing on how we feel about the game. We’re going to approach East just like we do everybody else.
“The bottom line is that we’re 7-1 against them in the last four years. If that’s the way it is, they beat us every three years, I’ll take the winning percentage any day.”
Joel Lindberg did his best to keep the Spartans in the game, scoring a game-high 35 points. He also had nine assists, sevens steals and was 6-of-14 on 3-point attempts.
Things didn’t go right for the Spartans (15-2) from the start as East opened up a 9-2 lead and Superior was forced to call a timeout 52 seconds into the game.
“Coach (Chuck Tolo) told us to set tone and have them play at our speed,” Starks said. “The last time, at their place, we played to their speed. We set the tone from the beginning.”
Things settled down a bit until East gradually built a 23-13 lead on a Woodard 3-pointer with 10:04 left in the half.
The fireworks went off a minute later when Starks was given a technical foul, which led to Lindberg scoring eight straight points to tie the game at 25-25.
With both teams in foul trouble, and several key players from both teams sitting on the bench, the ’Hounds managed build a 42-33 halftime lead.
East got another great start in the second half, scoring 10 straight points, including a pair of Starks 3-pointers, and dunks by Woodard and Starks.
The Greyhounds maintained a comfortable lead until Superior got within 64-52 with 8:01 remaining.
The lead again floated between 12 and 16 points until Lindberg and Heytens hit back-to-back 3-pointers for an 82-72 lead with 1:00 left.
East sealed the victory with a Woodard basket and Starks three-point play.
“I was really proud of our kids,” Kontny said. “We never went away. Even when we were down by 19, we got back within 10 and had an opportunity to get a loose ball here, or a loose ball there and get back in the game. We made some runs, but it wasn’t just our day.”
The loss ended the Spartans’ 44-game winning streak vs. Minnesota schools. It was Superior’s first loss against a Minnesota foe since a Dec. 7, 2006 home loss to Duluth Central and also snapped its 24-game road win streak against Minnesota teams.
“It’s all about learning. Any time you lose a game you want to learn from it,” Kontny said. “The last time we lost a game we won our next 12. I told them ‘let’s learn from this one and go on another 12-game winning streak.’ That’s what we want to do, get to the state tournament. And only these type of games will help you do that.”
The Spartans, who were at Menomonie Tuesday night, can clinch the Lake Superior Conference title outright when they host the Cloquet Lumberjacks at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
SPARTAN SPIN: Starks, bound for Division I Columbia in the Ivy League, now has 2,261 career points, moving into 25th place in Minnesota. … East improved to 13-7 with its fourth consecutive victory. … Superior won the first meeting with East, 75-63. … East also won the JV game 89-69 and the “C” game 64-61.
Superior 33 44 -- 77
Duluth East 42 47 -- 89
Superior: Joel Lindberg, 35 points; Zach Colvin, 11; Jake Turkowski, 9; Andy Heytens, 8; Josh Kimmes, 6; Rob Kraft, 5; Dustin Hobson, 2; Jacob Lindberg, 1.
Duluth East: Dyami Starks, 30; Johnny Woodard, 29; Nick Toland, 16; Freddy Sievert, 10; Montel Chapman, 4.