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Prep boys basketball: Sanigar, Spartans stave off Hunters

Junior guard scores 22 as Superior overcomes 27 turnovers and 25 Denfeld offensive rebounds.

Superior’s Daynen Lull (3) grabs a rebound over Duluth Denfeld’s Nathan LaPlante (35)
Superior’s Daynen Lull (3) grabs a rebound over Duluth Denfeld’s Nathan LaPlante (35) in the first half of the game in Superior Friday evening, Jan. 27.
Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram

SUPERIOR — Superior boys basketball coach Kory Deadrick had an extended talk with his team Friday, Jan. 27.

Never mind that the Spartans had just won the game. Good coaches like to see improvement from their team, regardless of what the scoreboard says, and in that regard, Superior took a proverbial step or two in the wrong direction despite defeating Duluth Denfeld 69-64 before a crowd of about 300 at Superior High School.

“I just said we have to be better,” Deadrick said.

Where do you want to start?

According to Superior’s stat crew, the Spartans had 27 turnovers while giving up 25 offensive rebounds — 25.

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“That’s 52 extra possessions,” Deadrick said. “I don’t know how you win when you do that, but we somehow found a way. We’ve done that a lot this year, found a way to win, but I want to beat the better teams, and I want to beat teams in the playoffs, and I think these guys do, too, and we got to clean that up.”

Duluth Denfeld’s MarNaries Ferguson (11) tries to go to the hoop right before Superior’s Tre Sanigar (5) swats the shot off the backboard
Duluth Denfeld’s MarNaries Ferguson (11) tries to go to the hoop right before Superior’s Tre Sanigar (5) swats the shot off the backboard in the second half of the game in Superior Friday evening, Jan. 27.
Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram

Both teams feature second-year head coaches in Kory Deadrick and Denfeld’s Phil Homere.

Both teams were also hungry for a win. Superior (10-6) came in with a couple close losses against quality teams, while Denfeld (7-11) has now lost four straight, including two by six points or less.

Junior guard Tresean Sanigar turned in another all-around game for the Spartans, scoring 22 points, connecting on 10 of 12 free throws — making ’em all down the stretch — while also having a couple key blocks of would-be layups.

“After those two tough losses, we needed a comeback win,” Sanigar said. “The first five minutes we were down. They were making it a game, and if we don’t come out ready, they can definitely do that to us.”

Carter Lambert added 14 points, with 11 of those coming in the first half. Daynen Lull added 12 points and Calvin Anderson chipped in 10 in a gritty performance where he overcame foul trouble and shook off a second-half injury that had him writhing in pain on the bench, his face buried in a towel, the fabric acting as a silencer, muffling the sound.

Duluth Denfeld’s Aiden Altona (1) scrambles to get up and secure a loose ball after colliding with Superior’s Calvin Anderson (24)
Duluth Denfeld’s Aiden Altona (1) scrambles to get up and secure a loose ball after colliding with Superior’s Calvin Anderson (24) in the second half of the game in Superior Friday evening, Jan. 27.
Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram

Denfeld’s performance certainly wasn’t without heart, either.

MarNaries Ferguson led the way with 18 points while Ethan Starstead and Finnley Powell added nine points apiece.

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The Hunters, however, needed to shoot better from the free-throw line, where they were 8 of 19, an Achilles’ heel for them this year. And if Superior had 27 turnovers, then Denfeld was likely 30-plus. Easy.

Superior’s Carter Lambert (21) and Calvin Anderson (24) both jump above Duluth Denfeld’s Aiden Altona (1) for a second half rebound
Superior’s Carter Lambert (21) and Calvin Anderson (24) both jump above Duluth Denfeld’s Aiden Altona (1) for a second-half rebound during the game in Superior Friday evening, Jan. 27.
Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram

“That’s been our story,” said Homere, a former Lake Superior College assistant coach in his first stint as a head coach. “I never have to question how hard they play, but we just need to do a better job of putting everything together and just finishing. At the end of the day, if we continue to keep working on the little things, I think we can be a dangerous team come playoffs. Games like this help prepare us for the future.”

It was an interesting contrast in style, the 3-point happy Spartans against a Hunters team that likes to get to the rim.

Denfeld is quick along the perimeter, and that led Superior to put the ball on the floor much more than normal. That led to more trips to the free-throw line but a boatload of turnovers.

Superior’s Percie Cole (11) fights for a rebound between Duluth Denfeld’s Deon’Tae Persaud-Davis (13) and MarNaries Ferguson (11)
Superior’s Percie Cole (11) fights for a rebound between Duluth Denfeld’s Deon’Tae Persaud-Davis (13) and MarNaries Ferguson (11) in the first half of the game in Superior Friday evening, Jan. 27.
Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram

“Phil always gets his guys to play hard,” Deadrick said. “I enjoy playing them. It’s competitive. It’s a fun game. I like learning from mistakes — on the winning side.”

Deadrick was asked if before the game, would he have ever thought the Spartans would come out with a victory turning the ball over 27 times and giving up 25 offensive rebounds.

Deadrick laughed, as if to say, that’s not even a question. Of course it’s a loss.

“I would say 99 out of a 100 times that’s a loss,” he said, “but some guys made some shots in key moments where we really needed them, where they were really making a run, and we found a way.”

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Duluth Denfeld 29-35—64

Superior 29-40—69

Duluth Denfeld — Aiden Altona 5, Dashawn Moore 9, Lucas Koski 2, Ethan Starstead 9, MarNaries Ferguson 18, Deon’Tae Persaud-Davis 4, Finnley Powell 9, Joshua Rock 2, Cole Abernethy 3, Nathan LaPlante 3. Totals 26 8-19 64.

3-point goals — Starstead, Ferguson, Powell, LaPlante.

Superior — Daynen Lull 12, Tresean Sanigar 22, Devon Ford 3, Carter Lambert 14, Calvin Anderson 10, Landon Anrig 3, Drew Eisel 5. Totals 22 17-27 69.

3-point goals — Lull, Ford, Lambert 4, Anderson, Anrig.

Jon Nowacki joined the News Tribune in August 1998 as a sports reporter. He grew up in Stephen, Minnesota, in the northwest corner of the state, where he was actively involved in school and sports and was a proud member of the Tigers’ 1992 state championship nine-man football team.

After graduating in 1993, Nowacki majored in print journalism at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, serving as editor of the college paper, “The Aquin,” and graduating with honors in December 1997. He worked with the Associated Press during the “tobacco trial” of 1998, leading to the industry’s historic $206 billion settlement, before moving to Duluth.

Nowacki started as a prep reporter for the News Tribune before moving onto the college ranks, with an emphasis on Minnesota Duluth football, including coverage of the Bulldogs’ NCAA Division II championships in 2008 and 2010.

Nowacki continues to focus on college sports while filling in as a backup on preps, especially at tournament time. He covers the Duluth Huskies baseball team and auto racing in the summer. When time allows, he also writes an offbeat and lighthearted food column entitled “The Taco Stand,” a reference to the “Taco Jon” nickname given to him by his older brother when he was a teenager that stuck with him through college. He has a teenage daughter, Emma.

Nowacki can be reached at jnowacki@duluthnews.com or (218) 380-7027. Follow him on Twitter @TacoJon1.
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