ABERDEEN — After going cold with the lead in the second quarter and trailing at the half, the Huron Tigers found their groove in the second half, pulling away in the fourth quarter for a 62-48 victory over the Aberdeen Central Golden Eagles Friday in Aberdeen.
Huron coach Tim Buddenhagen expressed before the game that the Tigers would have to combat Aberdeen’s length by keeping them to one shot on offense and out of the lane.
It likely didn’t make him very happy that the first bucket of the game was on a put back by Parker Lemer.
Huron answered by grabbing their own offensive rebound, working it around and finding Colton McNeil for a three-ball. The Golden Eagles broke the Huron press to get Camden Fauth a layup but CJ Gainey answered with a three to give Huron the 6-4 lead.
Grant Fritz got a put back for Aberdeen to knot the score, but Anderson Porisch quickly answered with a reverse layup for Huron to cap a busy first two minutes of the game with a 8-6 Huron lead.
Blake Ellwein connected for three and then found Carsen Evans on a backdoor cut to give the Tigers a 13-6 lead with three minutes remaining in the first.
Jacob Weishaar hit a pull up jumper out of the timeout, Ellwein hit one of two free throws, and then Brendan Phillips hit a deep shot two possessions in a row to tie the game at 14-14.
Ellwein connected on a deep three to end the first quarter with Huron ahead 17-14.
Fritz made a strong move and dunked to open the second half for Aberdeen, but Gainey immediately answered with a three.
Lemer was fouled and hit a pair of free throws. Little did the Tigers know that was a start for him in the quarter.
Huron got a lob pass in to Ellwein off a steal for an easy lay in to make it 22-18.
That’s when the Golden Eagles and Lemer took hold of the game. Fritz hit a pair of free throws, Fauth nailed a three and then Lemer drove to the hoop twice, getting two buckets and one free throw to quickly push out a 10-0 run and take a 28-22 lead.
Porisch ended the Aberdeen run with a three, but Lemer was able to hit a pull-up jumper. Ellwein scored on a post move to end scoring in the first half with the Tigers trailing Aberdeen 30-27.
Aberdeen Central’s Jett Carlson, right, tries to control a ball on the floor as Huron’s Gavin Moeding, left, reaches in during Friday night’s game at the Golden Eagles Arena.
McNeil got back-to-back put backs to open the second half, giving Huron back the lead 31-30, however Ellwein would pick up his third foul on the ensuing possession.
Ellwein hit a three in transition to push the lead to 34-30.
Fritz made a strong move down low and Phillips hit a pair of free throws to tie the game at 34.
Porisch found Ellwein on a backdoor cut, Ellwein made a strong post move, and Ogle got a put back to allow Huron to push the lead out to 40-34 with three minutes left in the third.
Fritz found Colby Dauwen for a backdoor layup and then Fritz hit one of two free throws - his miss would be the only Aberdeen miss from the charity stripe all evening.
Moeding made one of two free shots and then found Evans in transition to make it 43-37 Huron.
Gainey nailed a step back three but Dauwen closed the third quarter with a steal and a layup to send it to the final quarter with a 46-39 lead.
Fritz got a put back for Aberdeen to open the fourth quarter. Then Ellwein and Phillips traded baskets to get it to 50-46. Phillips’ second set of free throws on the quarter were due to Ellwein’s fourth foul with 4:38 left, leaving half the fourth quarter for Huron’s leading scorer to have to play smart.
McNeil got a put back and Ellwein slashed hard to the hoop for a basket before hitting a pair of free throws to push Huron’s lead to 56-46 with two minutes left.
Huron was able to get stops on defense and hit 10 of 10 free throws in the fourth quarter to seal the 62-48 victory.
The defensive pressure for the Tigers keyed the second-half surge, allowing just 18 points in the second half and using multiple steals and transition moments to key offense. Tigers coach Tim Buddenhagen said that was a focus at halftime.
“The coaches challenged them at the half,” Buddenhagen stated. “When we challenged Aberdeen, that’s Tiger basketball. We’re about using stops to key our offense.”
Ellwein scored 30 points to lead all scorers as Huron moves to 11-6. McNeil and Gainey each added nine points.
The Golden Eagles fell to 7-9 despite three players in double figures, led by Lemur and Phillips with 13. Fritz added 11 for Aberdeen.
Huron lost the JV game 70-54 and dropped the Sophomore tilt, 61-50.
Huron will host Watertown on Friday, and Buddenhagen says that matchup is one thing left on the checklist for his team to end the season.
“Right now, we have our 10 wins, and that was my goal. We’re taking it one game at a time now,” Buddenhagen reflected.
“The boys want to show that their game in Watertown wasn’t how we play.”
Huron 17 27 46 62
Aberdeen Central 14 30 39 48
Huron (11-6): Colton McNeil 4 0-0 9, Gavin Moeding 0 1-2 1, Holden Hegg 0 0-2 0, Kolton Ogle 1 0-0 2, CJ Gainey 3 0-0 9, Blake Ellwein 9 9-10 30, Anderson Porisch 2 2-2 7, Carsen Evans 2 0-0 4. Totals: 21 12-16 62.
Aberdeen Central (7-9): Parker Lemer 5 3-3 13, Camden Fauth 2 0-0 5, Jacob Weishaar 1 0-0 2, Colby Dauwen 2 0-0 4, Brendan Phillips 3 5-5 13, Grant Fritz 4 3-4 11. Totals: 17 11-12 48.