Boys Basketball: Cougars down GoodhueZUMBROTA- Zumbrota-Mazeppa’s Lucas Ziemba put in extra work on his jump shot leading up to Tuesday’s boys basketball game against Goodhue in an attempt to get out of the early season slump he said he was experiencing.
By: Chris Harrell, The Republican Eagle
ZUMBROTA- Zumbrota-Mazeppa’s Lucas Ziemba put in extra work on his jump shot leading up to Tuesday’s boys basketball game against Goodhue in an attempt to get out of the early season slump he said he was experiencing.
It certainly paid off.
Against the Wildcats (6-3, 0-1 HVL Blue), Ziemba was one missed free throw away from a perfect shooting night, going 9 of 9 from the field, including 4 of 4 on 3-pointers and leading the Cougars’ (4-3, 1-0 HVL Blue) with 25 points in a 57-53 victory to open the conference season.
“We’ve got a lot of kids who can shoot and it was Lucas’ turn tonight,” Z-M head coach Darin Raasch said. “Once they started falling, you could see his confidence go up.”
Ziemba’s performance may lead to a new ritual for the junior. Ziemba said he took a nap before the Goodhue game and might need to make it a habit after such an impressive game. He also had an assist, four rebounds and four steals.
“Throughout the season so far I’ve been struggling,” Ziemba, a junior, said of his shot. “Usually I’m tired. Today, I slept. I felt good, I felt awake.”
Cougars’ junior Nathaniel Rauen added 12 points, three assists and four rebounds. Senior Devon Holtegaard scored six points and had eight rebounds in the win.
Senior Ryan Bigelow led the Wildcats with 16 points, including three 3-pointers. Senior Michael McNamara scored 12 points on 3 of 13 shooting and made 6 of 8 free throws. He also had eight rebounds – five offensive – and two blocks. Junior Zach Hinsch scored nine points and had six rebounds.
19 of Ziemba’s points came in the first half and he scored eight of Z-M’s first 10 points to give the Cougars a 10-4 lead 4 minutes, 7 seconds into the half. Goodhue fought back to take the lead at 18-17 with 4:53 left in the half but Ziemba’s steal and score 3.5 seconds before halftime capped a 9-3 run for Z-M, sending the Wildcats into the break trailing 30-26.
“We had some defensive breakdowns in the first half,” Goodhue head coach Tony Poncelet said.
The Cougars did not relinquish their lead the entire second half but made mistakes to leave the Wildcats chances to get back in the game. Z-M’s largest lead of the night was eight points and its 50-42 lead with 5:28 left was trimmed to four 30 seconds later. Goodhue caught to within 53-49 with a minute remaining but Cougars’ Matt Johnson sealed the victory by going 4 of 4 on free throws in the final minute.
“We got some turnovers off them,” Poncelet said. “We got some opportunities but we didn’t capitalize.”
Raasch said not playing since December 20 definitely had an effect on the crispness of Z-M’s decision making.
“I had no idea what we were going to get,” he said. “At times, we looked a little rusty. We settled down when we needed to.”
The Cougars committed 12 turnovers to the Wildcats’ 16.
Both teams are at home Friday with Goodhue hosting Kenyon-Wanamingo and Z-M playing Pine Island.