NEW ULM - If anyone doubted how important Sibley East's substantial size advantage would be against New Ulm Cathedral on Monday, the Wolverines put all questions to rest by scoring two of their first three baskets on alley-oops.
Making a rare appearance at the Cathedral gym, Sibley East was simply too big for the Greyhounds to handle in a wire-to-wire 83-59 non-conference boys' basketball victory.
"New Ulm Cathedral, they played hard and they've got some kids, we've just got a lot of size," Wolverines head coach Mike Feterl said. "And my size played well tonight. They didn't get greedy on the outside or anything, we played inside out like I wanted us to, and we got our post touches and we got 'er done."
Staff photo by Steve Muscatello
Sam Harrison (33) of Sibley East takes a shot over Jeff Osborne of New Ulm Cathedral during the Wolverines’ win Monday at CHS.
Cathedral showed plenty of fight in the contest, but wasn't able to cut into Sibley East's lead after falling behind 46-28 at halftime.
"We would have had to play perfect," Cathedral head coach Paul Hazuka said. "They're a very big team, they're a very skilled team. They play at a high pace that made us uncomfortable, forced us into a lot of errors. Their fast play on offense, we didn't defend that very well."
The Wolverines opened the game's scoring with an alley-oop from Brody Rodning to Tyler Bates, with Sam Harrison setting up 6-foot-10 senior Max Grabow for an alley-oop a short time later.
After falling behind 14-4 the Greyhounds mounted an 8-0 run to cut the score to 14-12, but Sibley East's Logan Highland followed with a 3-pointer and the Wolverines continued on an upward trajectory from there.
"When they came back, we had to tighten up on defense, limit the turnovers and get the rebounds," Harrison said. "I think that's really what helped us out."
Grabow led the Wolverines in the first half with 10 points, including a resounding dunk when he gathered his own rebound on a missed free throw. He also made his presence known on defense, seemingly toying with the Greyhounds with his blocking ability.
Another key to Sibley East's early success was that it didn't send Cathedral to the free throw line at all in the first half, with the team picking up its first foul of the game with three minutes left before halftime.
"It's nice when you don't have to get in foul trouble," Feterl said. "Our biggest thing is we don't want to get our bigs in foul trouble, and of course we didn't have to worry about that the first half."
The Wolverines maintained a lead of at least 18 points throughout the second half as both teams were able to give their bench players some quality minutes.
Cathedral freshman Isaiah Osborne took full advantage of the opportunity, adding a spark to his team's efforts in the second half.
"My adrenaline was just rushing right away," Osborne said. "I was just pumped to get out there and play for that long."
After making a nerve-wracking free throw on a one-and-one attempt, Osborne added another basket and a nifty assist to Bryan Kokesch for a long 2-pointer.
In total, 10 different Greyhounds and 11 different Wolverines made their way into the scorebook.
Harrison and Bates (seven rebounds) led the way for the Wolverines with 15 points apiece. Grabow (nine rebounds, four blocks) finished with 12 points, Rodning (five assists, five steals) had 11 points and Nick Bruss added 10 points and seven rebounds, including a hot stretch where he scored eight of his team's final 14 points.
Jake Stadick made a number of slick shots to lead Cathedral with 13 points, with Brandon Beranek and Jeff Osborne (six rebounds, three assists) adding nine points each. Jacob Gangelhoff and Collin Helget (six rebounds) each had eight points.
Though they fell to 2-14 with the loss, the Greyhounds felt that they gained more than they lost in the contest with the chance to play an unfamiliar opponent.
"It's fun, they're just big and it gives us good experience," Isaiah Osborne said. "They're harder, so when we play against the easier teams it's a lot easier for us. It's just great experience."
Cathedral will host Madelia tonight.
Sibley East (10-6) will travel to Belle Plaine tonight to try to avenge a 64-57 loss from Jan. 3.
"We lost a heartbreaker, but we're going to come back with a vengeance and hopefully we can get the 'W,'" Harrison said.