Cougars come up empty against Montgomery-LonsdaleNathaniel Rauen worked hard to keep the Zumbrota-Mazeppa boys basketball team close against Montgomery-Lonsdale Tuesday in Zumbrota but the Cougars ran out of gas in the second half, losing 56-48.
By: Chris Harrell, The Republican Eagle
Nathaniel Rauen worked hard to keep the Zumbrota-Mazeppa boys basketball team close against Montgomery-Lonsdale Tuesday in Zumbrota but the Cougars ran out of gas in the second half, losing 56-48.
It was the second game in as many days for Z-M (3-3) and it showed with the defense moving a step slow and jump shots hitting the front of the rim.
“We were tired but that’s not an excuse,” Rauen said. “We weren’t feeling good and I guess that affects every part of your game.”
Rauen, a junior, led the Cougars with 16 points. He also had five rebounds – four offensive – one block and three steals before fouling out with 14 seconds left in regulation.
“He’s not flashy,” Z-M head coach Dain Raasch said. “But you look in the box score and he has 16 and five. We have a lot of guys who have good basketball sense.”
Junior Lucas Ziemba added nine points, four rebounds and three steals. Junior Sam Edwards had eight points and six rebounds. Senior Devon Holtegaard pulled down eight rebounds.
Montgomery-Lonsdale was led by Jordan Trnka’s 14 points. Dalton Zeug scored 11 points, shooting 3 of 8 on 3-pointers, and grabbing six rebounds. Jesse Beulke scored 10 points and had six rebounds in the victory.
Z-M was outrebounded 32-29 and committed 13 turnovers to Montgomery-Lonsdale’s six. The Cougars did have 12 offensive rebounds but the majority of those came in the first half. Montgomery-Lonsdale did a better job of hitting the glass aggressively in the second half.
“Rebounding has killed us,” Rauen said. “We weren’t getting into them, we weren’t boxing out. They boxed out really well. They attacked the ball off the rim and they weren’t throwing the ball away either.”
In the first half, the Z-M full court pressure seemed to frustrate Montgomery-Lonsdale and supplied easy layups in transition. The Cougars led 21-12 with 7 minutes, 34 seconds left in the half but allowed Montgomery-Lonsdale back in the game with sloppy plays at crucial moments. Just when it appeared Z-M was going to pull away in the first half, an ill-advised shot or a misguided pass would let Montgomery-Lonsdale back in it.
“Tonight, we just couldn’t convert in transition or clean up the loose balls,” Raasch said. “We were a step late. It showed we had a game last night.”
A 9-2 run in the final six minutes of the first half sent the game into halftime tied at 27-27.
The second half started slow for both teams with Montgomery-Lonsdale scoring first at 15:12. The Cougars spent the rest of half playing catch-up, never leading or tying the score the entire second half. Poor shot selection plagued Z-M as the players’ legs got tired.
“Once we got down, we started to press and take some shots that are not us,” Raasch said. “In the second half, we settled for shots that weren’t the best.”
Tired legs also hurt the Cougars at the free-throw line where they made just 4 of 11 free throws one night after hitting 16 of 20 against Stewartville.
Z-M is expecting to overcome back-to-back game weariness with the returns of junior Kevin Niebuhr and senior Zach VanOstrand in the next month, Raasch said.
“We’re playing a little shorthanded right now but we’ll be better in the long run for it,” Raasch said.
The Cougars get a long break after Tuesday’s game. Z-M opens the conference season Jan. 3 against Goodhue in Zumbrota.