Spartan basketball teams clinch LSC titlesSuperior Boys defeat Hermantown at home, SHS girls win big at Ashland
The Superior High School boys basketball team secured the Lake Superior Conference title Thursday night with a 70-65 victory over the Hermantown Hawks. Superior has won the LSC title in seven of the last eight seasons and holds a 70-4 record over that span.
The victory puts the Spartans at 16-2 overall and leaves them undefeated in conference play.
“It was a great conference championship game,” said Dave Kontny, SHS coach. “Give Hermantown credit, they played hard and made some big shots, especially in the first half. It seemed like everything they put up went in and every bounce or loose ball went their way, but our kids held their composure and made the plays when they had to.”
Superior now wraps up the regular season with three non-conference games. On Saturday, the Spartans travel to Chippewa Falls for a 3 p.m. game.
They then return home Tuesday to host Duluth East and travel to Grand Rapids Thursday.
The Hawks (15-3) entered Thursday’s game as the No. 9 ranked team in Minnesota Class AAA.
Hermantown held the advantage for much of the first half as Superior struggled to knock down its shots and fell behind 7-2 in the opening four minutes.
The Spartans rallied briefly to tie the game at 9-9 and took a 13-11 lead when Nick Mehlum came up with a steal and layup.
Hermantown quickly reclaimed the lead, however, and controlled the rest of the half to lead 35-26 at halftime.
“I thought we were a little tight early and forced the issue offensively,” Kontny said. “I told our guys at half that basketball is a game of runs and you win championships by playing defense, and that’s exactly what they did.”
The Hawks extended their lead to 13 points before Superior went on a 17-7 run to make it a one-possession game.
Bryan Sanders’ shot cut the lead to 46-43, and Ben Erickson followed with two free throws to make it 46-45.
Jordan Hughes gave Superior its first lead since the first half, 49-48, on a long two-pointer, and Mehlum helped ice the game by going 4-of-4 from the free-throw line in the last 50 seconds.
“We forced a lot of turnovers in the second half with our length on the wings and our pressure up top,” Kontny said. “With four minutes to go, I reminded them that pressure defensively would lead to a momentum change and it did. During that stretch we got a jumper in the lane by Erick (Tunell), a baseline jumper from Jordan (Hughes), a drive and finish by Derek (Kontny), clutch free throws by (Bryan) Sanders and a put-back on an offensive rebound by Ben (Erickson), and you could sense everything shifting in our favor.”
Superior finished the game making 17-of-27 shots from the free-throw line, including 12-of-16 in the second half. Hermantown finished 3-for-5 from the line.
“I am so proud of our kids; we played as hard as we could and our unselfishness led to easy baskets,” Kontny said. “They deserved to win. They have played together for a long time, and their hard work paid off tonight.”
SPARTAN SPIN: The SHS girls also clinched the LSC title with a 69-29 win at Ashland. … The Spartan boys junior varsity team defeated Hermantown 62-23 to improve to 16-2. Connor Gray led the team with 11 points, Jake Libal added 10 and Matt O’Shaughnessy added nine. … The SHS boys freshman team (17-0) won 46-39. Branden Myer had 16 points and Brett Lozon had 13.
Hermantown 35 30 — 65
Superior 26 44 — 70
Hermantown — Kole Zuidualder 19, Kevin Folman 17, Zach Goplin 12, Thomas Madison 9, Justin Brendon 4, Lane Wargin 3, Alex Comstock 1.
3-point goals — Folman 4, Goplin 2, Madison, Wargin.
Superior — Erick Tunell 14, Nick Mehlum 14, Bryan Sanders 13, Jordan Hughes 12, Ben Erickson 10, Derek Kontny 4, Anthony Valentine 2, Carter Anderson 1.
3-point goals — Tunell.
Clemons 4-9 2-2 10, Wainionpaa 5-7 1-3 11, Lindstrom 9-12 3-5 23, Correll 3-8 0-0 7, Kontny 7-15 0-0 14, Kintop 0-1 0-2 0, Fregin 2-4 0-0 4, Kmecik 0-1 0-0 0, Toland 0-1 0-0 0, Schuster 0-1 0-1 0. Totals 30-59 6-13 69.
Tody 2-14 0-0 4, Habas 2-11 0-0 5, K.Huber 3-5 0-0 7, Bretting 2-8 0-0 4, N.Huber 1-6 3-4 5, St. Germain 0-2 0-0 0, Agostine 0-2 0-0 0, Hagstrom 0-1 0-0 0, A.Huber 1-1 0-0 2, Voldberg 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 12-51 3-5 29.
Halftime—Superior 36-23. 3-point goals—Superior 3-9 (Lindstrom 2-2, Correll 1-3, Wainionpaa 0-1, Fregin 0-1, Clemons 0-2), Ashland 2-15 (K.Huber 1-2, Habas 1-6, Bretting 0-1, N.Huber 0-1, Tody 0-5). Fouled out—None. Rebounds—Superior 50 (Lindstrom 11), Ashland 28 (N.Huber 4). Turnovers—Superior 13, Ashland 18. Total fouls—Superior 12, Ashland 11.