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Boys Basketball: Second-half rally falls short for Goodhue

Goodhue's Alex Thomforde (3) puts up a runner against Byron's Tommy Jensen during the second half of Tuesday's Hiawatha Valley League game at Goodhue. (Republican Eagle photo by Joe Brown)1 / 2
Goodhue's Ethan Dressen goes up for a putback with pressure from a Byron defender during the first half Tuesday in Goodhue. (Republican Eagle photo by Joe Brown)2 / 2

GOODHUE – With a high-pressure defense making scoring tough in the first half, Byron’s 30-19 second-half lead over Goodhue looked nearly insurmountable.

Then, the Wildcats finally managed to crack the Bears’ high-intensity man-to-man defense to stay in contention with last year’s Hiawatha Valley League champions, mounting one last charge.

“They showed some resiliency in battling back,” said Goodhue first-year head coach Matt Halverson. “When you’re down 10, you’re kind of scrambling. But we did a nice job of giving ourselves a chance at the end.”

The Wildcats cut Byron’s lead to two with three minutes to go, but Goodhue couldn’t complete the comeback in a 46-43 home loss on Tuesday.

“I wish we would have come through at the end,” said Wildcats junior forward Tyler Schumacher, “but it came down to execution and we couldn’t do it. We had a couple turnovers at the end that kind of killed us.”

While Goodhue opened the game trying to go inside, the Bears stuck to the perimeter, scoring their first 12 points from 3-point range. As Byron built a 25-17 halftime lead, five of its seven 3-pointers came before the intermission.

With the Bears’ defense making life miserable around the hoop, Goodhue’s coaches aimed to stop the turnovers and start working the inside-out game to open up the outside shot.

“We ran into the same thing against Stewartville. And one thing we were doing was throwing too many chest passes that were getting deflected,” Halverson said. “What we emphasized was getting a great ball fake and get a bounce pass.”

Down 30-19 with 14 minutes, 49 seconds left after a free throw by Kip Knutson, Goodhue started making its comeback thanks to some timely outside shooting. Down 32-24 with 13:42 left, Riley Augustine, Schumacher and Riley Bollum all hit 3-pointers, cutting the deficit to 34-33.  Bollum finished the night with eight of his 11 points coming after halftime.

And after Lance Mortland and Buster Meyer accounted for nine and eight first-half points, respectively, the Wildcats made it their mission to slow down the Bears duo. Mortland finished with 12 points, while Meyer tacked on 11.

“We emphasized staying on their side (defensively),” Halverson said. “We started jumping at those passes that they were getting in the first half and we were getting tips. I thought the kids adjusted very well.”

Following a Meyer 3-pointer, Schumacher responded in kind with his own 3-pointer, then a putback from Ethan Dressen put Goodhue in the lead, 38-37.

“That was a big momentum shift,” Schumacher said of the Wildcats’ 3-point shooting. The junior was 4-for-5 from beyond the arc on the way to a game-high 20 points. “When we make a three, the crowd’s cheering and you feel more confident.”

Although Goodhue’s defense stepped up immensely in the second half, Byron was able to score the next five points, building a lead that it wouldn’t relinquish the rest of the way.

The Wildcats cut Byron’s edge to 45-43 with three minutes to go after a Bollum layup. With both teams unable to score, Alex Thomforde had a shot to tie the game after drawing a foul with 6.8 seconds remaining. But Thomforde was unable to hit on his two free throws. Byron’s Tyler Coble went to the line and hit his first shot to put the Bears up 46-43.

Coble’s second attempt rimmed out. Amid the panic, a desperation runner by Bollum went off the backboard, ending Goodhue's hopes of overtime.

“We know we have a little bit of an inexperienced team and there will be some growing pains to go along with it,” Halverson said. “Certainly, there are some things we’d like to take back at the end execution-wise. There was a few turnovers and shot selection.”

The Wildcats (1-4, 0-4 HVL) host Triton on Dec. 17.

Joe Brown

Joe Brown is the sports editor for the Red Wing Republican Eagle. Previously, he worked at the Marshall Independent and the St. Cloud Times. For updates on local sports, follow Joe on Twitter at @RE_JBrown.

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