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Ethan boys top Hanson 48-40

Ethan’s Blake Bartscher looks for someone to pass to as he is guarded by Hanson’s Aaron Wenande during the first quarter of the District 8B championship Friday at the Corn Palace in Mitchell. (Aaron Saunders/Republic)

The Ethan boys’ basketball team was pounded by Hanson 58-43 in it’s first game of the 2013-14 season.

The Rustlers weren’t happy, but they kept working and improving, hoping for a chance at vindication. Ethan finally got it’s payback with a 48-40 victory over the Beavers in the District 8B boys’ basketball championship Friday at the Corn Palace in Mitchell.

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“We weren’t really playing as a team in the first game,” Ethan center Camden Myers said. “We kind of needed to figure out how to play together. Hanson had a really big kid that we didn’t know much about, but after that game we did and that really helped us a lot.”

The big kid Myers was talking about was Hanson junior center Taylor Nichols, who Myers did battle with under the basket Friday. Nichols finished with nine points and five rebounds, but it was Myers who would have the last laugh as he tallied 12 points and 12 rebounds for the double-double. Myers presence down low helped send the Rustlers to its second straight region championship game. Ethan beat Hanson in the District 11B finals last season 52-40 before falling to Burke/South Central 63-62 in the Region 6B championship. 

Ethan jumped to a 9-2 lead with the help of Myers and Blake Bartscher. The Rustlers pushed the pace in the early going, relying on Bartscher to drive to the basket and kick the ball out to find open teammates. The method worked as the Rustlers built a 19-9 lead in the second quarter.

Down by 10, the Beavers looked to be in trouble, but Hanson began to pick up the scoring with the help of Sam Vander Stouwe. The junior guard drilled two 3-pointers in the second quarter for the Beavers, who went on a 7-0 run to close the half. The run was highlighted by a Jordan Marquardt mid-range floater as the buzzer sounded, which brought the Beavers to within three points.

“We went through a lot of adversity tonight,” said Ethan coach Bryce Roth. “It is not easy to get back here and be in this situation two years in-a-row, so that just shows the dedication of the boys.”

Marquardt picked up where he left off in the third quarter, by hitting a 3-pointer to tie the game up. The junior guard would go on to finish the game with a team-high 12 points.

Both teams traded one-point leads for much of the third quarter, before Ethan managed to string together a couple buckets and take a three-point lead into the fourth quarter.

With the lead in hand, the Rustlers made crucial shots from the field to hold on for the victory. One of those players, who drained big buckets for Ethan was Tyler Myers. He converted two mid-range jumpers in the final six minutes of the game and finished with 11 points.

“I can’t say enough about how our kids fought hard,” Hanson coach Josh Oltmann’s said. “I kept saying to my assistant coach how are we only five-or-six points down, then we came back and got a one-point lead. But we expended so much energy trying to get back in the game and I think our shots just weren’t falling in the fourth because we were tired.”

The Rustlers once again have the chance to earn a bid to the Class B state tournament. All that stands in their way is a game against xx in the Region 4B championship 8 p.m. Tuesday at the Corn Palace in Mitchell.

E 9 19 32 48

H 4 16 29 40