Balanced Spartans defeat Minneapolis SouthwestSuperior hosts foruth-ranked Rice Lake Saturday night
By: Ken Olson, Superior Telegram
Superior High School boys basketball coach Dave Kontny loves how balanced his team is.
Not only did the Spartans get scoring from all seven players in Saturday afternoon’s 64-58 win over the Minneapolis Southwest Lakers, but each time Superior found itself in trouble, someone different stepped up for the Spartans.
The first player to step up was Derek Kontny.
After Southwest scored the game’s first basket, Superior scored the next seven points, including five by Kontny.
The Lakers tied the game at 9-9, but the run was stopped by one of Carter Anderson’s two 3-point baskets.
Southwest scored the final five points of the first quarter for a 14-12 lead.
The Lakers gradually opened up a 23-16 lead on a 3-pointer by Marquis Graves early in the second quarter, but Superior followed with a 12-3 run for a 28-26 lead.
The SHS scoring spree included seven points by Jordan Hughes and another 3-pointer by Anderson.
“I thought Jordan’s seven points in the second quarter were big for us and got us back in the game,” Coach Kontny said. “On defense we also started making them do some different things that they didn’t want to do earlier in the game.”
The Lakers followed with the next four points for a 30-28 lead at halftime.
Southwest opened up another seven-point lead, 38-31, thanks to two 3-pointers by Akeem Smith, but Superior scored the next 10 points and 17-of-19 for a 49-40 lead that they wouldn’t give up.
That run was led by Erick Tunell, who scored 10 of his team-high 13 points in the third quarter.
“Erick had a nice stretch, but I really like our balance,” Kontny said. “We got guys scoring and anybody on any given night can hurt you. So it’s just a matter of who’s going to come up big for you.
“Give Southwest credit, they put some pressure on us and forced us into a number of turnovers.”
Superior matched its nine-point lead at the start of the fourth quarter on two free throws by Nick Mehlum and a basket by Kontny.
The closest the Lakers would get down the stretch was 57-54, thanks to an 8-2 run that included a steal and jam by Eamon Brodek.
Adding to Tunell’s 13 points were Hughes with 11, Mehlum with 10, Kontny with nine, Anderson six and Bryan Sanders and Anthony Valentine with four apiece.
“The balance shows that we’re coming together as a team,” Hughes said. “We’re all better team players, we’re unselfish and we pass the ball around.
“We may have been a little overconfident coming in. We beat them twice last year and then earlier this year by 12 points or so, so overconfidence may have played a role.”
Cam Ross and Brodek led the Lakers with 16 points apiece.
After playing four games in seven days, the Spartans took Sunday and Monday off before preparing for the Rice Lake Warriors, who they host at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.
“We played hard and we were coming off an emotional win over Cloquet,” Kontny said. “I was just hoping that we were going to get through Saturday with enough energy. You’re always worried about letdowns, especially against teams you have already beaten, and we looked a little sluggish. But we found ourselves and did what we had to do to win.”
The Warriors are 11-2 on the season, ranked No. 4 among Division 2 schools and are undefeated in the Big Rivers Conference. Their only losses are to Stevens Point and Wisconsin Rapids by identical 48-45 scores.
Rice Lake is led by 6-foot-9 sophomore Henry Ellenson, who averages 19.8 points and 20 rebounds a game.
“We’re going to have to prepare for Rice Lake’s size,” Kontny said. “We’re going to have our work cut out for us.”
Also playing for Rice Lake is Brandyn Christman, who played for the Spartans as a freshman. The 6-2 junior averages 9.2 points a game.
“They’re a very good team, it’ll be a tough one,” Hughes said. “I’m looking forward to playing them and Brandyn. It’ll be fun seeing him again and playing against him.”
SPARTAN SPIN: The SHS junior varsity avenged its only loss of the season with a 46-35 win over the Laker JV. Nate Sanders led the way with nine points, Connor Gray added eight points and Johnny Curphy had seven. … The Spartan freshmen also improved to 10-0 with a 56-49 win. … Saturday’s game will be carried live on the radio by WNXR 107.3 FM (wnxrfm.com) and on the web at ifan.tv.
Minneapolis SW 14-16-16-12—58
Mpls SW—Marquis Graves 6; Demetrius Cady 4; Akeem Smith 10; AJ Ray 2; Tyler Porch 4; Cam Ross 16; Eamon Brodek 16.
3-point baskets—Smith 3, Graves. Free throws—10-of-13
Superior—Ben Erickson 7; Jordan Hughes 11; Carter Anderson 6; Nick Mehlum 10; Derek Kontny 9; Bryan Sanders 4; Erick Tunell 13; Anthony Valentine 4.
3-point baskets—Anderson 2, Hughes, Tunell. Free throws—8-of-14.