Steele helps Knights cage Jaguars, 48-37
North Union girls rout Garrigan in battle of unbeaten hoopsters
GRANADA — Alden-Conger senior post player Gavin Steele seems to like his new role as the Knights’ sixth man.
Steele came off the bench and delivered a game-high 14 points to complement eight rebounds in guiding Alden-Conger to a 48-37 Valley Conference basketball victory over the Truman/Martin Luther/Granada-Huntley-East Chain Jaguars on Friday night in Granada.
“He seems to have adjusted to it well,” Knights head coach Bob Hansen said in reference to the 6-foot-4 Steele making the transition from starter to valuable reserve. “He started our first four games this season before I brought him in off the bench on Tuesday night, and he scored in double figures for us and hit the boards hard against LeRoy (Ostrander).”
Ironically, Hansen called on Steele for early duty during Friday night’s conference clash when forwards Dalton Bradley and Alex Cummings each were whistled for their second personals during the first 9 minutes of the first half.
Bradley worked the lane for six of his nine points on the game to stake the Knights to a 9-4 lead before heading to the sideline with foul difficulty at the 11:35 juncture.
The Jaguars utilized their own version of a clutch sixth man — post player Derek Shoen — to inch within 11-9 by the 10-minute mark.
Shoen, who’s still recovering from a broken foot sustained during football season, converted a traditional 3-point play off a low-post entry assist from James Schrunk before cashing in Mason Maloney’s pass for a bucket underneath to whittle the gap to two.
“Derek looks like he’s only about 50 percent back from his injury,” Hansen said in reference to the 6-2 Shoen. “He’s so athletic and strong inside, but you could tell he’s not quite there from a conditioning standpoint yet.”
Steele drilled a 3-pointer off a Cummings feed before working the low post off one of Kaleb Bendickson’s three assists to trigger an 8-3 run for the Knights. The Jaguars’ Zach Wolter and Cummings exchanged 3-pointers during the run that extended A-C’s lead to 19-12.
Schrunk later nailed a top-of-the-key trey with 48 seconds remaining to claw the Jaguars’ deficit to 21-18 by intermission.
Schrunk’s one-handed baseline floater inched the Jaguars within one to open the second half before Bradley’s free throws, Steele’s second 3 of the night and Erik Theusch’s low-post lay-in off one of Ryan Hansen’s three assists widened the Knights’ lead to eight.
Maloney and Shoen answered by working the lane midway through the second half before Zach Wolter nailed another trifecta to close the home team’s gap to 39-33 with 6 minutes remaining.
Isaac Johnson’s lay-in off a Shoen assist and Maloney’s conversion of a one-and-one situation closed the Jaguars within 39-37 with only 2:16 left in regulation.
The Jaguars went scoreless for the final 2 minutes and were forced to foul the Knights down the stretch. Adam Skov nailed two pivotal charity tosses at the 2:04 mark before Alden-Conger capped the victory with a 9-0 run.
Shoen finished with a game-best 11 rebounds and a team-high nine points off the Jaguars’ bench, while Maloney neared double-double territory with eight points and nine boards.
Schrunk and Zach Wolter, who also distributed three assists, contributed seven points apiece for the home team.
Cummings narrowly missed a double-double with 10 points and a team-best nine rebounds for the Knights, while Skov chipped in seven points.
Truman/Martin Luther/GHEC (1-5) travels to Sleepy Eye St. Mary’s next Friday night, while Alden-Conger (2-4) hits the road to Nicollet on Thursday night.
Fischer 1-5 0-0 2, Schrunk 3-5 0-1 7, Maloney 1-4 6-6 8, Johnson 1-9 0-0 2, Z. Wolter 2-6 1-2 7, Shoen 3-9 3-6 9, Greier 0-2 0-0 0, Gravlin 0-1 0-0 0, Bowers 0-1 0-0 0, O. Wolter 0-4 0-0 0, Gieseke 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 12-47 10-15 37.
Cummings 4-10 0-0 10, Bradley 3-10 3-6 9, Skov 2-6 2-2 7, Hansen 0-0 3-6 3, Bendickson 0-1 1-2 1, Steele 5-10 2-5 14, Theusch 2-4 0-0 4, Kuethe 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 16-43 11-21 48.
3-pointers: Alden-Conger 5-15 (Steele 2-4, Cummings 2-5, Skov 1-1, Bradley 0-4, Theusch 0-1); TMLGHEC 3-21 (Z. Wolter 2-5, Schrunk 1-1, O. Wolter 0-4, Johnson 0-6, Shoen 0-2, Gravlin 0-1, Bowers 0-1, Greier 0-1). Fouled out: Cummings. Rebounds: A-C 35 (Cummings 9, Steele 8); TMLGHEC 31 (Shoen 11, Maloney 9). Assists: A-C 10 (Hansen and Bendickson 3 each); TMLGHEC 7 (Z. Wolter 3). Steals: A-C 6 (Hansen 4); TMLGHEC 4.
Waseca 77, Blue Earth Area 38 — Malik Willingham scored a game-best 17 points to guide the Class 3A, No. 10-ranked Bluejays to a 39-point Big South Conference victory over the Bucs on Friday night in Waseca.
Jack Vetch contributed 14 points to Waseca’s winning ways, while teammate Ryan Dufault chipped in 11 points.
Jacob Vaske delivered 10 points and grabbed four rebounds for Blue Earth Area, while teammate Austin Thielfoldt supplied eight points and five boards.
The Bucs, who made 10 of 15 free throws on the game, were outscored 51-15 during the opening half.
Blue Earth Area (1-4) plays host to Maple River on Thursday night, while Waseca (4-2) travels to Waterville on Tuesday night to face Waterville-Elysian-Morristown.
Bishop Garrigan 80, North Union 41 — The Golden Bears limited the Warriors to two first-quarter points en route to a 45-11 halftime lead and never looked back during Friday night’s 39-point victory in Armstrong.
Riley Bauer produced 16 points and six rebounds to pace North Union, while teammate Dillon Neusch contributed 11 points.
Robert Ortman scored eight points for the Warriors, who made just 13 of 49 field goals, including 2 of 24 from 3-point range, to go with 13-for-20 shooting from the free throw line.
North Union (1-6) travels to Lake Mills, Iowa, on Tuesday.
North Union 64, Bishop Garrigan 41 — The Iowa Class 2A, No. 15-ranked Warriors utilized smothering defense to rout the Class 1A, No. 11-rated and previously-unbeaten Golden Bears by 23 on Friday night in Armstrong.
North Union held Garrigan to only five first-quarter points en route to building a 32-18 halftime edge.
Samantha Hagedorn topped a balanced Warriors’ offensive attack by pouring in 20 points to complement distributing five assists.
Chloe Lofstrom produced a double-double performance of 11 points and 12 rebounds for North Union, while teammate Hallie Reese contributed 14 points and six rebounds to the winning ways.
Kate Anderson tallied 12 points and doled out four assists for the Warriors, while Bre Anderson supplied five points, seven rebounds, four assists and three steals.
The Warriors made 23 of 49 field goals, including 7 of 18 from 3-point range, and 11 of 23 at the free throw line.
North Union (8-0) hits the road to Lake Mills, Iowa, on Tuesday night.