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Second-half domination lifts Eagles by Hubmen

Staff photo by Travis Rosenau New Ulm’s James Osborne (5) takes the ball up the court after a Jordan turnover during the Eagles’ season-opening boys basketball game with Jordan Saturday afternoon at New Ulm High School.

NEW ULM — It was just the first game of the season for both teams, but it may raise a few eyebrows in Section 2AAA.

New Ulm outscored Jordan 25-3 to start the second half and went on top Jordan 74-53 Saturday afternoon in nonconference boys basketball game.

Colton Benson led the Eagles with a game-high 29 points. Nate Firle added 21 points and James Osborne contributed 9. Benson added 15 rebounds and Firle hauled down 21 boards. Osborne also had four steals and Mason Epper took a charge.

Nate Kes paced the Hubmen with 16 points.

“I loved what we were able to do coming out of the gates hot,” New Ulm coach Matt Dennis said. “We played hard defense — we had a lot of adrenaline going right out of the gates. This first game is like Christmas for us — we have been waiting and waiting for this and finally it is here. We ripped that present open right away.”

That came when the Eagles scored the first 11 points of the game as Benson sank the first of his six 3-pointers in the game and James Osborne turned two Hubmen turnovers into that 11-0 lead.

But Jordan tried to put a lump of coal in the Eagles’ present when they cut a 16-4 New Ulm lead into a 21-19 Hubmen lead and a 29-28 lead at halftime.

“We got a little reality check where we have to do the little things.” Dennis said about Jordan’s comeback. “That stretch did not get away from us, but we did not do the things that got us that lead early. We have to realize that when we take the floor, we have to do the little things.”

And the Eagles did that coming out of halftime.

A 10-point run to start the second half, giving New Ulm a 38-32 lead, was followed by a 15-0 Eagles run that forced Jordan to call two timeouts.

“At halftime we talked about what they were doing on ball-screens to us and we talked about what we needed to do to beat that,” Dennis said. “We wanted to be patient inside and let the game come to us.”

Three’s from Benson and Easton Clark made it a 59-39 contest before Benson made it 65-45 lead with six minutes left in the game.

While Benson and Firle raised havoc inside offensively, Dennis turned his attention to the tandem’s ability to alter Jordan’s shots.

“There are not many teams that are going to have 6-foot-6 and 6-foot-9 (juniors), and I am sure that Nate bothered and changed a lot of their shots,” Dennis said as Jordan made only 3 of 24 shots from 3-point land. “And we were able to use our quickness on the outside with James and Collin Horning and we knocked down 3s with Easton (Clark), Ayden Jensen and Mason Epper and Will Fossen. When you hit from the outside that opens up the inside.”

The Eagles were 11 for 26 from beyond the arc in the game.

The Eagles are at St. Peter next Friday in their Big South Conference opener.

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