Boys Basketball: Too tall a task, Mankato West upends Wingers
Exploiting matchups is a given in any sport, and sometimes it's the difference between a win and a loss. Red Wing saw that on Friday in a 69-54 defeat to Big Nine Conference foe Mankato West.
With 6-foot-3 forward Christian Massett done for the season after a knee injury suffered last week against Albert Lea, the Wingers have been forced to go guard-heavy. That leaves 6-5 junior Nathan Carlson as the lone true post in head coach Drew Olinger's offense and defense. Four guards may work sometimes, but with the Scarlets featuring 6-9 Michael Sathoff, it was not the right plan for stopping West.
“Our game plan was to contain (Sathoff) and to contain (Jake Makela), they knew the way to get baskets was to attack,” Olinger said. “And defensively, they sat in a 2-3 zone, which was hard for us to get an inside presence without Massett, who was our slashing forward.”
Sathoff had 18 points in the win, with Makela adding a game-high 25 for the Scarlets. Donre Spann added 12 as West hit 67 percent of its shots from the field, including 3 of 10 from the 2-point line. The Scarlets also hit 16 of 19 free throws, which put the game away over the final seven minutes.
“The game of basketball is all about getting easy shots, and generating high-percentage shots, and if you look at their shot chart, the bulk of their points came in the post,” Olinger said. “They really handled us down low. And then they got to the free-throw line. Our defensive discipline wasn't really there, and that allowed them to go on runs.”
West began the game on an 8-0 run through the first four-plus minutes, but over the ensuing seven minutes, the Wingers were able to claw back to a 16-16 tie. But another Scarlets surge made it 27-16 with 3:36 to play in the first half.
Red Wing got it to a six-point game with 32 seconds on the clock, but a fade away 3-pointer at the buzzer from Trey Burmeister put West up nine at the break.
The Wingers had one more run in them in the second half, scoring 11 of 13 points to get within four at 42-38, punctuated by a Jewon Terry floater over Sathoff.
“He's a big, tall kid. You have to work around it, take the jump shots when they're there,” Terry said.
That margin held for a few minutes, but the Scarlets, and Makela from the foul line in particular, were able to pull away, including another 8-0 run that put the lead at 17 with 2:26 until bus time.
Terry led the Wingers with 12 points, and Kipp Adams found 10 in the loss. Seth Yeatman had a team-high seven rebounds for Red Wing.
The loss drops the Wingers to 3-8 overall, and to 2-6 in league play. A game at Rochester Mayo (2-8, 1-5 Big Nine) on Tuesday looks like a good chance for Red Wing to figure out something defensively in its post-Massett world.
“We've had to revamp what we've been doing. What we were doing in zones revolved around Massett and Nate,” Olinger said. “We've always talked about starting inside, but we're relearning. We can generate good shots, it's just 3s. And 3-pointers are a lower-percentage shot to make.”
After the Spartans, back-to-back rivalry games await with a trip to Northfield on Friday, and a visit from Winona on Jan. 24.
“It's a lot of learning. But those young guys can step and and do a lot of things,” Terry said. “We just have to keep our composure, play some defense and work through it as a team.”