Tigers hand Chargers first loss
SPRINGFIELD – Led by a red-hot shooting performance from Mitchell Buerkle on Friday night at Springfield High School, Springfield handed Minnesota Valley Lutheran its first loss of the season 94-85 in Tomahawk Conference boys’ basketball action.
Buerkle hit six 3-pointers, shot 70.5% from the floor and added seven assists to lead the Tigers (10-1, 5-1). Decker Scheffler also had 29 points and six boards for Springfield, while Nolan Hovland had 12 points and five assists, Mason Kretsch had 8 points and five assists and Ivan Hovland had 8 points.
“Coming into the game, we knew they’d be a tough team, one of the best in the conference,” Buerkle said. “We just had to get this win and prove that we’re one of the best in this conference.”
The Chargers (11-1, 5-1) were led by Dunwa Omot, who had 31 points, six rebounds, six assists and four steals, and Mason Cox, who had a 23-point, 13-rebound double-double. Jace Marotz also had 21 points and six rebounds for the Chargers.
After a late 3 by Omot had the Chargers down 67-63, Buerkle answered with a 3 of his own. Moments later, Marotz drained a 3 to have the Chargers down 77-72, but Buerkle again had an answer for the Tigers and hit a 3 to put Springfield up 80-72.
Scheffler then extended the Tigers’ lead to double digits on a driving layup to the right with less than three minutes to go. The Tigers took their largest lead of the night, 88-74, after a layup from Buerkle with 1:59 left to play.
Cox got a bucket inside with 22.2 seconds left to cut the Chargers’ deficit to single digits, 93-85, but that was the closest MVL got from there out.
While both squads showed off an aggressive ability to run the floor and score, defense was one area that MVL had trouble with late.
“Our intensity on defense, we win our games on our defensive side and we’ve been averaging 48 points given up [a game] and tonight they score ,” Cox said. “That just kind of shows we were just off, we didn’t close out too well, we didn’t help, we didn’t talk the intensity wasn’t there. We’ve just got to bring it up on defense more.”
In the first half, both squads traded buckets early on until Ivan Hovland got a bucket inside off the glass and Buerkle found nothing but net on a 3 for an 11 -6 Springfield lead. After a Marotz 3 tied things up at 16-all, two consecutive Springfield turnovers led to a layup each by Omot and Cox and a 20-16 MVL lead with less than 11 minutes to play in the half.
The last bucket lit a fire in Scheffler, who took the ball down the court and converted on an and-one to bring the Tigers back within a point. He then found Buerkle open for a layup on the next possession before Kretsch hit a 3 for a 24-20 Tigers lead.
After a free throw by Omot tied things up at 37, the Tigers ended the half on a 7-2 run to lead 44-39 at halftime, with a 3 from Buerkle breaking the tie.
“They really focused on [Decker] tonight,” Buerkle said of MVL. “That just left me and the others open and we were able to make the shots.”
MVL hosts Cedar Mountain on Tuesday night in conference action, while Springfield hosts Buffalo Lake-Hector-Stewart on Tuesday night for a conference matchup.