Beavers upset MCHS
After starting the season on a 15-game undefeated streak, the No. 1-ranked Mitchell Christian boys' basketball team is now on a two-game slide.
The No. 4-ranked Hanson Beavers outscored MCHS 16-8 in the third quarter, including three 3-pointers from Jamin Bridge, helping them to a 53-48 upset of the Eagles in the Mitchell Christian High School gymnasium.
Bridge and Tyson Gau led Hanson with 15 points each, as Gau took charge in the first half with nine points, and Bridge sparked the Beavers in the second half with his threes.
"He's supposed to knock down those shots and in the first half he didn't," Hanson head coach Josh Oltmanns said. "Every time he missed a shot, I kept yelling at him, 'You're going to shoot it again, you're going to shoot it again.' The ones he made were big at the right time."
Mitchell Christian, which lost to James Valley Christian Tuesday night, was led offensively by Jesse Tolsma with 17 points, and point guard Matt Nielson finished with 11 points and seven assists.
Hanson focused in on Tolsma and Nielson throughout the game and especially in the fourth quarter, as they combined for nine points in the second half.
After trailing by three at the half, the Beavers' offense pulled ahead after Bridge's second 3-pointer in the first four minutes of the third at 34-33.
After MCHS pulled ahead again on Matt Beukelman's shot, Hanson's Craig Henglefelt hit a bucket inside the paint, Gau knocked down a jumper from the wing on the team's next possession, then Bridge knocked down his third three from the wing to give Hanson its biggest lead of the game at 42-35.
"They're loaded with shooters, and they're a hard matchup for anyone," Eagles' head coach Tom Young said.
Mitchell Christian pulled within two points in the fourth quarter when Cody Thomsen had a lay in off Tolsma's miss, but numerous turnovers with less than three minutes in the game gave Hanson extra points the Eagles couldn't afford.
"The biggest thing tonight was we made some poor decisions down the stretch," Young said. "Hopefully we learn from this just like any other loss."
Hanson knocked down only 5-of-10 free throws with less than three minutes to play, but because of Hanson's pressure defense and heavy coverage of Tolsma and Nielson, it was enough to seal the win.
The Eagles had 11 turnovers in the game, including four in the last two minutes, and after Thomsen's put back, MCHS only scored one more bucket -- a Tolmsa three with 16 seconds left -- while trying to rally for a comeback.
"They're such a good basketball team that we tried to do a bunch of different things to get them off their game," Oltmanns said. "We tried our best to make them uncomfortable."
In the first half, the Eagles were aggressive inside the lane, and all momentum seemed to go their way at the end of the first quarter when Tolsma blocked a shot from Henglefelt and sprinted down the court with time running out. Tolsma hit a 10-foot jumper from the baseline as the buzzer sounded to give MCHS the three-point lead.
The Eagles ran out to a seven-point lead in the second quarter two different times, but Henglefelt scored two baskets inside the paint and Bridge knocked down his first 3-pointer of the night with 30 seconds left in the half. Henglefelt was the only other Hanson scorer in double figures, and he finished with 14 points.
The win moved Hanson above MCHS in District 9, as the Beavers are now 14-2 with four games remaining on the schedule including Saturday's matchup with Viborg (16-1).
"I told the kids tonight's game is just a win or a loss, because it all comes down to district tournament time," Oltmanns said. "If we would happen to play again, we would have to play a lot better to win that game."
Mitchell Christian doesn't get long to think about its back-to-back losses. The Eagles host Aberdeen Christian (6-7) today at 8 p.m.