FREEMAN — Corsica-Stickney withstood shot after shot and kept coming back.
Until Viborg-Hurley started throwing blows too big to handle.
The No. 12 Jaguars trailed by 12 in the third quarter of a Class B SoDak 16 boys basketball game Tuesday and appeared on the verge of being routed by the fifth-seeded Cougars. Then Hayden Plamp’s 3-pointer fell, followed by a steal-and-score by Jaylen Kemp.
A 3-pointer by Brendan Wentland cut the lead to two late in the third quarter and Viborg-Hurley decided it was time to play to its strengths, pounding the ball into the post repeatedly in the fourth quarter to pull away for a 65-54 win to advance to the state tournament for the second consecutive season.
“The inside game kind of nipped us, but we battled and fought and that’s what it’s about,” Corsica-Stickney head coach Mike Tuschen said. “Sometimes in life you just have to compete and give 100% and be satisfied with your effort. I’m not disappointed. I have a lot of pride in the team that I have.”
The Cougars rattled off seven-straight points in the second quarter to build a 10-point lead and led by eight at halftime. The lead quickly swelled in the third quarter, until Plamp and Kemp sparked the Corsica-Stickney run.
Wentland would take control from there.
The senior entered averaging 19.1 points per game, but he was held scoreless in the first half and spent a chunk of the second quarter on the bench with two fouls. In the second half, he decided it was time to play.
Wentland used some nifty ball handling to create lanes to the hoop and he needed little separation to rise up for a jumper, scoring all of his team-high 19 points in the second half.
“There were a couple times where I got a pick and I saw (the defender) turn his body enough that I could get the step-back and he couldn’t close-out on me quick enough,” Wentland said. “That’s what I was hoping to get on that last shot I took to put us down by five when it was an eight-point game and it hit the back of the rim.”
As the Jaguars began to ride their leading scorer, Viborg-Hurley (17-5) began to do so as well. Corsica-Stickney’s tallest rotational player was listed at 6-foot-5, but the Cougars had a pair.
Early in the game, Viborg-Hurley relied upon a drive-and-kick offense, as well as turning turnovers into points in transition. In the fourth quarter, the Cougars began to toss the ball into Gradee Sherman.
The 6-5 senior scored 10 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter, helping Viborg-Hurley outscore Corsica-Stickney (16-6) 10-2 in the paint in the final eight minutes. Sherman also grabbed 10 rebounds — snaring five of the team’s 16 offensive boards — and blocked three shots before fouling out.
“We haven’t really gone with two posts very much this year and the kids haven’t really worked on it.,” Viborg-Hurley head coach Galen Schoenefeld said. “But we did a pretty good job. Grader and Grant (Mikkelson) were both willing to screen across for the other one. The kids on the outside took care of the ball and made sure they were patient to get it to them.”
Trailing 42-40, Jaguars had two opportunities to tie or take the lead, but came up empty on both possessions. Viborg-Hurley quickly pushed the lead to seven thanks to five points by Eli Boomgarden and Corsica-Stickney began to rush shots, missing four in a row as the lead grew to nine.
“We just took a quick shot rather than coming down, executing and keeping them on the defensive side,” Tuschen said. “Those quick shots are good if they go in, but they can really hurt you.”
Boomgarden finished with a game-high 22 points and 10 rebounds as Viborg-Hurley.
Trever Burke had 10 points and 10 rebounds, while Plamp tossed in 10 points for Corsica-Stickney.