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Boys Basketball: Big shots elude Wingers in loss to Stars

Red Wing's Ben Munson drives the lane for a layup during Tuesday's Missota Conference game against Holy Angels at Sonju Gymnasium. (Republican Eagle photo by Joe Brown)

In its first three conference games, Red Wing has had no problem showing it can stay with anyone in the Missota.

Now, the team has to find out how to finish games against its conference foes.

Facing Academy of Holy Angels at home Tuesday, both the Wingers and Stars came in looking for their first conference win. Ultimately, Holy Angels’ duo of Charlie Koontz and Taylor BonGiovanni combined for 37 points in a 48-44 victory.

In its first three Missota games, Red Wing has lost by three, five and four points, respectively.

“We didn’t finish like we needed to,” said Wingers’ head coach Doug Toivonen. “It’s just another disappointing loss for us. These are really close games that we haven’t found a way to win, which is something that we need to do.”

Building a 29-23 halftime lead, the Stars fed the ball to the 6-foot-6 Koontz early and often as he scored 13 of his game-high 24 points before halftime. Koontz shot 8 of 15 from the field and 8 of 11 from the free-throw line while also grabbing eight rebounds.

“They basically run their whole offense through him and he got a touch every time,” Doug Toivonen said of Koontz. “I thought we did a nice job forcing him into some things, but when you have a kid that big … it’s something we’ll learn from and use when we play them the second time.”

Needing to cut the six-point halftime deficit, Red Wing got a big boost from Ben Miller, who scored six of the team’s first eight points of the second half. With 14 minutes, 34 seconds left, Miller hit a baseline jumper that put the Wingers ahead 31-30, and then hit a pair of free throws to make it a 33-30 lead.

“In the second half, we started off nice and got back to a three-point lead,” Doug Toivonen said.

“After that,” Toivonen added, “we kind of plateaued off.”

BonGiovanni (13 points) got in on the Stars’ offensive act with a layup that gave Holy Angels back the lead, 34-33. Every time Red Wing made it a one-point game, either Koontz or BonGiovanni hit a clutch shot that gave the Stars an extra cushion.

All the while, Holy Angels started to give the Wingers fits in the second half with its full-court press. Forcing Red Wing into rushed passes and costly turnovers, the Stars went up 47-41 with 30.7 seconds remaining.

“We’d just get impatient and throw one away when we needed to get our guys in the right spots,” Doug Toivonen said about breaking the press.

Jon Sevlie, who scored a team-high 14 points, made it a one-possession game after hitting Red Wing’s first 3-pointer of the second half with 22 seconds left.

“If we’re going to beat anybody here in the next month, we’re going to need (Sevlie) to play the way he has been,” Doug Toivonen said.

BonGiovanni went 1 of 2 from the line to make it a 48-44 Stars lead with 13.1 left. With the Wingers driving down the floor in hopes of a quick bucket, Holy Angels scooped up an errant pass and watched the clock wind down for its first conference win of the year.

Isaac Toivonen had 10 points, and Travis Toivonen tallied seven points and eight rebounds. Ben Miller had eight of his 10 points in the second half for Red Wing.

Still, the big shots continue to elude the Wingers, who have lost three of four to start 2014. Red Wing was 3 of 20 from 3-point range on Tuesday.

“We just didn’t have anybody step up and have a big night offensively,” Doug Toivonen said. “Tonight, we had some good opportunities and didn’t hit the shots.”

The Wingers (10-4, 0-3 Missota) travel to Northfield on Friday.

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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