Nicollet boys down BLHS 85-63
NICOLLET — Ean Thomsen’s 35 points helped the Nicollet Raiders defeat the Buffalo Lake-Hector-Stewart Mustangs 85-63 in the final game of the Nicollet Holiday Tournament Thursday night.
The Mustangs broke a 13-13 tie in a tight opening start to the first half to lead the Raiders 19-13 halfway through the first half.
Nicollet began to take advantage as BLHS came into foul trouble with just under five minutes still left to play in the first.
“We just had to stick through it and fight back because when we are trailing, we can’t let that get us down,” Raiders senior guard Ean Thomsen said.
The Raiders’ Thomsen went to the foul line and sank both free throws to tie the game up at 21 as both teams shot well from outside.
Moments later, Nicollet’s Riley Hulke drove to the rim and watched the ball drop for a 27-23 lead.
Ben Bode created a turnover and his hustle to the free ball gave him a lane as he beat the defenders for the layup.
With no time left in the first half, Nicollet’s Josh Chadderdon went to the foul line after the Raiders created one more chance at the basket in the final seconds of the half. Chadderdon went 1 of 2 at the foul line as Nicollet took a 38-30 lead into the second half.
BLHS tallied 10 team fouls to Nicollet’s four fouls in the first half. Thomsen led the scoring in the first half with 16 points for the Raiders and Trent Weispfenning had 13 for the Mustangs.
Nicollet began to create second chances for itself by pulling down the offensive rebounds, with the height advantage going to BLHS.
“We are not a big team, but we fight hard and we are in the right position most of the time and just battle for it,” Raider coach Chris Hulke said.
The Mustangs closed their scoring deficit as the team shooting improved, taking very little time in the offensive side to put points on the board. With just over nine minutes to play in the game, the Mustangs trailed 59-51 as they continued to close the gap.
“We broke the pressure really well without a bunch of turnovers and we attacked the rim — when we want to score we can,” Hulke said.
Nicollet’s pressure at center court tallied the turnovers by BLHS and with strong driving to the rim, the Raiders were able to regain their points spread.
“Aggressiveness is a big part of our defense when we are trapping,” Thomsen said.
With 3:03 left to play in the game, Hulke forced a takeaway and drove down deep with guard Eric Fischer as Hulke got the assist on Fischers’ pump fake for 2.
“Just a real nice win for our team again tonight,” Hulke said. “We share the ball so well and I am proud of these guys with a three-game win streak going into the break.”
The Mustangs were led by Weispfenning with 22 points. Payton Diepold had 14 points from down low and Stefan Johnson ended with 12 points.
Thomsen led the Raiders with 35 points, eight assists and six rebounds, Bode had 11 points with 11 rebounds and Hulke tallied 11 points and 13 assists.
BLHS will be back in action at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday against Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City in Grove City.
Nicollet travels to Madelia at 7 p.m. on Jan. 5, Friday for a Valley Conference match-up.