BRANDON — The Huron Tigers dug themselves into a hole in the opening quarter, then spent the rest of the game clawing their way back, but came up just short Thursday night, dropping a 69-61 classic ESD boys’ basketball battle to the Brandon Valley Lynx at the Brandon Valley Gym.
“I’m proud of our effort tonight,” said Tiger coach Jon Schouten. “We played hard the final three quarters, but unfortunately games are four quarters. We didn’t come out on fire tonight, but the bounces went Brandon Valley’s way down the stretch. This was a great ball game against a great team in a wonderful environment tonight.”
Huron, which came in ranked No. 4 in Class AA and third in seeding points tends to have better luck when they get a good start to the game, which didn’t happen Thursday night. The Lynx are ranked second and sat one spot back in the seeding race.
Brandon Valley jumped out to a 5-0 lead on an inside basket from 6-foot, 9-inch post player Gavin Terhark, and an open three from Jaxon LaBrie. Nathan Boehrns got Huron on the board with a putback, and after Teegan Evers hit one-of-two from the line Huron was down 5-3.
It was a close as they would be the remainder of the first half, as some defensive lapses by the Tigers, which gave the Lynx some open looks, combined with some sloppy ball handling on Huron’s part, limited the opportunities for the Tigers, who trailed 19-9 at the end of the first quarter.
Kobe Busch scored the first four points of the second period to cut the difference to five points and the teams traded baskets the rest of the first half. Brandon Valley pushed its lead to 11 points in the closing minutes, on a driving layup from Jackson Hilton, but a three pointer from the wing by Cooper Fryberger and another free throw from Evers made the score 37-30 at the halftime break.
The Tigers struggled against the sticky man-to-man Brandon Valley defense, but as the second quarter progressed, more shots began to fall and Huron managed to stay close
Boehrns hit a trey to open the second half to get Huron within four points, but Brandon Valley ran off eight straight to push the margin back to 12, at 45-33. The Tigers fought back, as Busch scored on back-to-back possessions and Evers slashed for another bucket to cut it back to six.
But then the physical game escalated. Evers had his shot blocked by Terhark, but came down with the ball, but was called for a foul, which led to Schouten getting a technical foul. After making one of two free throws, Hilton was chasing down a loose ball and was fouled by Hayden Hegg, but shoved the Huron player and was given a technical foul himself.
When the smoke cleared, Brandon Valley led 51-43, and a conventional three-point play from Evers cut the margin to five headed to the final frame.
A three pointer from Derick Siemonsma and a driving layup from Fryberger got Huron its first tie of the game, but Terhark stepped outside and drained a three-pointer to put the Lynx back up by three. But the fireworks were not done.
Terhark blocked an Evers shot and the two got tangled and went down on the baseline. The call was Huron ball as Terhark was out of bounds, but Brandon’s Thomas Scholton protested and earned a technical of his own. Boehrns hit both free throws and the lead was back to one. The teams traded baskets, then Terhark shook loose inside for a bunny, but Busch scored on an offensive rebound to keep Huron in the game.
A Busch basket with a minute to play got Huron within three, at 64-61, but missed shots in the final minutes and just enough free throws to hold on for the win.
Hilton led all scorers with 26 points for the Lynx. Huron got 15 points from Busch, while both Evers and Boehrns added 13. Both teams left the gymnasium with 11-4 records, with five games remaining on their respective schedules.
“We played hard against a good team,” Schouten said. “We just didn’t make enough plays tonight.”
Brandon Valley swept the preliminary games, winning the JV game 64-45, the Sophomore game 64-49 and the freshman contest, 59-31.
Looking ahead, Huron is at Brookings on Tuesday, then hosts Class AA powers Sioux Falls O’Gorman Thursday night and Yankton Saturday at Huron Arena.
Huron 9 30 46 61
Brandon Valley 19 37 51 69