Spartans pull out wild win over GreyhoundsThe Superior High School boys basketball team improved to 18-2 on the season and notched their 11th straight win with a 61-60 victory over the Duluth East Greyhounds in the second game of a doubleheader Tuesday night in the SHS gym.
By: Ken Olson, Superior Telegram
The Superior High School boys basketball team improved to 18-2 on the season and notched their 11th straight win with a 61-60 victory over the Duluth East Greyhounds in the second game of a doubleheader Tuesday night in the SHS gym.
The Spartan girls opened the night with an 82-50 win over East on “Slam Dunk Cancer” night, which raised money to benefit breast cancer research and treatment.
While the Spartans got their usual strong games from their core group of seniors, sophomore Nick Mehlum led the team in scoring with 17 points.
Just after senior Derek Kontny nailed a 3-pointer and Jordan Hughes made a driving layup to give Superior a 57-55 lead with 1:07 remaining, Mehlum came up with a steal on an inbounds pass then made the layup to make it a four-point game, 59-55.
“I just guarded the ball, looked at his eyes and saw where he was going,” Mehlum said. “It was like a dream, I just stuck my hand out and tipped it way. All I thought about when I got the ball was, ‘I got to make it, I got to make it.’”
Mehlum then grabbed a defensive rebound and Erick Tunell was fouled, but missed the front end of bonus situation.
Shaq Coleman got East within 59-57 with :04.4 left, but Tunell was fouled again and this time sealed the victory by making both free throws to give the Spartans a four-point cushion.
Coleman nailed an uncontested 3-pointer at the buzzer to make the final score 61-60.
“I just relaxed more, concentrated and pretended it was a practice,” Tunell said. “This was the first two times since I’ve been playing (at SHS) that we’ve beaten them. It was a great win.
“We played well throughout. Our defense was a little poor at the beginning and early in the second half, but we pulled it together at the end and I thought we played really well.
The Spartans also got 15 points from Kontny, 14 from Tunell, seven from Hughes, five from Bryan Sanders and three from Ben Erickson.
Superior held leads of six points in the first quarter, nine points in the second quarter, and seven in the third. But each time East battled back and all three times took leads.
The Spartans matched their largest lead of the game, 43-34, on a Sanders basket just seconds into the fourth quarter.
The ’Hounds followed with a 10-0 run and took a 44-43 lead on two Mat Lochner free throws with 4:50 remaining.
After the teams traded baskets, the game was knotted up at 48-48, 50-50 and 52-52 over the next couple of minutes.
Kontny’s 3-pointer gave Superior a 55-54 lead with 2:00 left and a Sam Thompson free throw tied the game for one last time at 55-55.
“I really thought the momentum changed was when they took the lead by two and Derek nailed that 3 at the top of the key,” Coach Kontny said. “That was a huge shot and down the stretch all of our kids played well. We made a bunch of big shots and we played good defense.”
Hughes, Mehlum and Tunell then scored to help seal the victory and complete Superior’s season-sweep over Duluth East. The Spartans snapped a five-game losing streak to Duluth East with a 60-58 win on Jan. 31 in Duluth.
“Jordan’s basket was a great shot for us,” Mehlum said. “He’s usually not a driver, more of a shooter, but it was great to see him take it to the basket and make the shot.”
Coleman led East with 25 points. Chase DeDominces and Lochner added 14 points apiece.
“I told our guys after the game that I was proud of their effort, we haven’t had that a lot this year,” East coach Rhett McDonald said. “We have trouble closing games and we left the door open and Superior, with the guys they have, took the advantage of it today.
“It came down to little things and those are big in close games like tonight. It was a great atmosphere and it was great to be part of it.”
Superior tailed 6-2 to start the game thanks to four points from Coleman.
Three-pointers by Kontny and Tunell and two straight baskets by Mehlum gave Superior a 12-6 lead.
East ended the quarter with a 6-2 run, cutting Superior’s lead to 14-12.
The Greyhounds quickly took a 17-14 lead early in the second quarter on a 3-pointer by DeDominces and a basket by Mat Lochner.
Superior then rattled off 12 straight points for a 26-17 lead. Mehlum scored four points during the run, Erickson completed a three-point play and Kontny nailed a jumper.
Two free throws, and a layup at the buzzer, by Coleman got East within 26-21 at the half.
Superior’s lead evaporated early in the third quarter as East took a 31-29 lead on a 10-3 run.
Superior followed with an 8-0 run and took a 37-31 lead on Hughes’ 3-pointer, three-point play by Kontny.
After a DeDominces’ 3-pointer, Tunell and Kontny scored to give Superior a 41-34 lead after three quarters.
“We won three quarters, and lost the fourth, but we won down the stretch and that’s all that matters,” Kontny said. “This is a good win for us. We’ve been tested all year and the kids have answered every time.
“They have a nice team. We won seven in a row, they won five in a row and now we’ve won the last two. It’s a good rivalry, they have a good team and it’s good preparation for us. We want to play good teams in getting ready for the playoffs.”
Superior wraps up its regular season at 7:15 p.m. Thursday at Grand Rapids.
The Spartans open WIAA tournament play
SPARTAN SPIN: Superior’s JV improved to 18-2 with a 52-42 win. Jake Libal led the way with 13 points while Johnny Curphy, Connor Gray and John Lindberg added nine points apiece. … Superior’s freshmen team also won 59-27 to improve to 19-0 and run its unbeaten streak to 40-0. Brett Lozon scored 13 points and Terrell Wong and Shaun Petrovich had seven points each for the Spartans. … Tuesday’s “Slam Dunk Cancer” event, which raised $6,751 to support the St. Luke’s Regional Cancer Center.
Duluth East 12-9-13-26—60
Duluth East—Shaq Coleman, 25; Chase DeDominces, 14; Mat Lochner, 14; Sam Thompson, 5; Joe Yernatich, 2. 3-pointers—DeDominces, 2; Coleman. Free throws—11-of-15.
Superior—Ben Erickson, 3; Jordan Hughes, 7; Nick Mehlum, 17; Derek Kontny, 15; Bryan Sanders, 5; Erick Tunell, 14. 3-pointers—Kontny, 2; Hughes; Tunell. Free throws—6-of-7.