NEW ULM - It was a tale of two halves for the New Ulm boys basketball team Friday. The Eagles nearly erased a 20-point deficit in the second half as they lost to Blue Earth Area by a score of 65-60.
The Eagles got off to a hot start early as senior guard Andy Hawkins scored eight quick points to give the team an 11-6 advantage. After the good start, there seemed to be a lid on the basket for New Ulm. New Ulm only managed eight more points the rest of the half.
While the Buccaneers defense was stifling the Eagles, their offense started to score. Blue Earth Area junior forward Isaac Darrington gave the Buccaneers a lift by scoring 11 first-half points to make the halftime score 34-18 in favor of the Buccaneers.
Blue Earth Area kept its foot on the gas to start the second half as it pushed the lead to 20 at 38-18. With New Ulm needing anything to start a run, the Eagles turned to their defense.
The Eagles made an adjustment at halftime by using full-court pressure and a zone defense to get stops on defense. As the press and the zone forced turnovers and missed shots, the Eagles got the offense they needed.
"We started in man," coach Shane Heiderscheit said, "but they do a really nice job of getting it to their posts and we wanted to limit that. The guys are the one's who wanted to press because (Blue Earth) was only playing six guys and we could run on them."
Along with the great defense, New Ulm also used free throws to get back in the game. Six minutes into the second half the Eagles were already in the bonus. The Eagles used free throws, 3-pointers from senior KT Farasyn and Hawkins and solid inside play from sophomore Tyler Dittrich to cut the lead to four at 44-40.
New Ulm continued to scratch and claw but could not get on the winning side of the scoreboard. Blue Earth Area used solid free throw shooting down the stretch and a huge basket with a foul by Sam Lee to stay ahead.
New Ulm cut the lead to three points at 63-60 with 16 seconds left, but Blue Earth Area junior guard Dallas Barslou iced the game by making two free throws and ending New Ulm's comeback bid.
"Great effort, any time you can battle back from 20 down it is a good effort," Heiderscheidt said. "It was our defense, that's what we've been working on. I'm proud of our guys, they work hard day in and day out and I don't care what anyone else says, we may have only four wins, but for them to continue to put out an effort like that really shows the character of these kids."
Hawkins led the way for the Eagles with 19 points on the night. Dittrich played well all game and finished with 15 points. KT Farasyn added 10 points, all of which came after halftime.
New Ulm (4-17) returns to action Tuesday night as it hosts Le Sueur-Henderson.