PIERRE — A mark of a good ball club - any good ball club regardless of the sport - is the ability to win the games it is ’supposed’ to win. That was the case Tuesday night, as the Huron Tigers ran past the Pierre Governors 63-42 in an Eastern South Dakota boys’ basketball game at the Riggs High Gymnasium.
A win is a win, but it wasn’t really pretty, particularly in the first half.
“No, it wasn’t the prettiest,” said Tiger coach Jon Schouten, “but I thought we did a good job of seeing how the game was being played and adjusted as we went along.”
Huron came into the game ranked No. 4 in the latest Class “AA” basketball poll, and third in the seeding points with a mark of 10-3 on the season. The Govs, on the other hand, are mired in a season that saw them enter with a record of 1-16, putting them on the outside, looking in, in the race for a SoDak 16 playoff spot.
Huron jumped out to a 7-3 lead early, only to watch the Governors put up seven straight to take a 10-7 lead midway through the period, as Grey Zabel used his 6-foot, 6-inch, 250-pound frame to dominate in the paint.
But from that point, Huron adjusted to the physicality of the contest and picked up the pace. Teegan Evers hit a free throw and followed with a deuce on the next Tiger possession., before Nathan Boerhns scored seven straight and Derick Siemonsma got a tip-in, as Huron closed the corner on a 10-2 run.
The lead was extended in the second period. Huron played very sticky man-to-man defense and seemed to be a step ahead of the defense, keeping the Govs off the scoreboard from the field for the first four minutes of the quarter.
Meantime, on the other end of the court, Huron’s three-point marksmanship served them well. Not from behind the arc - Evers hit the only trey in the quarter - but by spreading the Pierre defense and cutting to the hoop.
The foot speed advantage that allowed Huron to beat the Govs to the spot on defense also allowed them to get several drives and layup attempts on offense.
Only a buzzer-beating three from Paul Adam cut the margin to 10, at 37-27, going to the break.
“We got off to a slow start, but our energy was good,” Schouten said. “We wanted to make them work when we were on defense and made it a priority to move the ball from side to side and use our quickness to get to the hoop.”
If the second quarter put a little pressure on the Governors, the third quarter was solid punch to the solar plexus. Huron outscored their hosts 15-4 in the period - nine of those from Boehrns - before the 6-3 senior hit the floor and left the game with two minutes to play in the quarter. Kobe Busch hit a bucket with three ticks on the clock that pushed the margin past the magical 20-point mark as Huron carried a 52-31 lead into the final stanza.
The final eight minutes allowed both coaches to clear their benches, as everyone got into the game for a few minutes.
Huron raised its record to 11-3 with the win, while Pierre slipped to 1-17.
“We got good play from our bench tonight,” Schouten noted. “We had a bit of foul trouble, but the guys off the bench came in and gave us good solid minutes. That’s important as we get into the final portion of the season.”
Boehrns led the way with 21 points in the game while Evers added 18. Derick Siemonsma came off the bench to grab four rebounds to help the Tiger effort, which forced 20 turnovers on the night.
Lincoln Kienholz was the lone bright spot for the Govs on the night, with 16 points, while Zabel, who played sporadically due to some foul trouble, ended the night with 10 points and nine rebounds.
Next up for the Tigers is a trip to Brandon Valley to take on the defending “AA” Lynx on Thursday night. The Lynx are 10-4 and fifth in seeding points thus far. Brandon Valley has lost only once this season at home and Schouten knows that his team will need to play a solid game to win.
“We know that Brandon is big and they are physical,” Schouten said. “We’ll have a short practice Wednesday with the weather and get ready to make that trip on Thursday.”
Huron 19 37 52 63
Pierre 12 27 31 42
Huron (11-3): Hayden Hegg 1 0-3 2; Kler Hae 1 0-0 3; Cooper Fryberger 1 0-0 2; Teegan Evers 6 5-8 18; Kobe Busch 4 0-0 9; Nathan Boehrns 7 4-8 21; Derick Siemonsma 3 1-2 8. Totals 23 10-21 63.
Pierre (1-17): Lincoln Kienholz 6 2-2 16; Paul Adam 3 2-2 9; Matt Hanson 1 0-0 3; Josh Rowe 1 0-0 2; Grey Zabel 4 2-6 10; James Mikkonen 1 0-0 2. Totals: 16 6-12 42.
FG: H - 23-49 47%; P - 16-45 36%. 3-pt FG: H - 7-17 (Boehrns 3, Hae, Evers, Busch, Siemonsma); P - 4-14 (Keinholz 2, Adam and Hanson). Rebounds: H - 23 (Siemonsma 4); P - 31 (Zabel 9). Turnovers: H - 8, P - 20. Fouls: H - 14; P - 17.