VIRGINIA — Up just four points on the Bluestreaks at halftime, the Virginia boys’ basketball needed a strong defensive effort in the second half if they hoped to pull away from Chisholm.
The Devils got just that, upping their intensity on both ends of the court to come away with the 74-63 win over the ‘Streaks.
The first half was a low scoring affair, with neither team able to create much separation between each other. The Blue Devils were quick to utilize their biggest offensive strength in senior Mason Carlson while Chisholm found their early scoring from a number of players.
On their second possession of the game, Carlson took a pass from Logan Nordby inside for the easy layup but the ‘Streaks responded with a bucket from July Abernathy, who turned two into three after being fouled on the way to the hoop.
Carlson kept things moving for Virginia with a three but Chisholm’s Bryce Warner answered back with a three of his own. Not to be outdone, Carlson knocked down another long range shot to give Virginia the lead back, 8-6.
Warner kept up the scoring for Chisholm with a reverse layup before Nordby etched his first points with a three pointer to make it 11-8 Virginia.
Following a Chisholm timeout, Carlson kept the offense moving with a bucket on the drive. The three-pointer came back into style, however, with Jude Sundquist knocking one down before Virginia’s Jack Toman hit one of his own.
Virginia extended their lead to seven points shortly after with Dan Squires putting in some work in the paint. Sundquist responded with a bucket on the drive before Virginia’s Nick Peters got the Devils to 20 with a nice-looking jumper.
While things were looking nice for the Devils early on, their offense began to slow down and Chisholm’s offense picked up the pace in response. Following a Sundquist free throw, Abernathy added a pair of points in the paint. Werner then followed that up with two more on the drive. Sundquist then gave his squad their first lead since the opening minutes, converting on another three-point play with Chisholm leading 21-20.
The ‘Streaks continued to feed Sundquist, who scored yet again with a turn-around bucket. Toman would then drive to the hoop himself for Virginia, making it a one-point contest.
A Squires free throw knotted things up but Sundquist answered with two more points on the drive to put his squad up by two with 2:58 to play.
The closing minutes went in favor of the Devils thanks to the play of Toman. Toman knotted things up on the drive and then closed out the half hitting four of five free-throws to give Virginia the 29-25 lead going into the break.
Toman led the Devils with 11 points at the half while Carlson had 10. Sundquist had 13 for Chisholm. After the game, Virginia head coach Derek Aho said his team struggled at times in the first half, most notably in keeping their intensity up and creating turnovers.
“In the first half, we weren’t happy with that intensity,” Aho said. “We want to always be playing at a level where we can create turnovers and that helps fuel our offense. We weren’t at the level we needed to be at in the first half and we knew we had to pick that up going into the second.”
The second half was more favorable for the Devils, who managed to find the spark they needed offensively and defensively after the first few trips down the court.
Up 34-29, Carlson drove to the basket for a bucket to make it a seven-point game, matching Virginia’s largest lead of the night. Following a Toman made free throw, Carlson scored again, this time on a turnaround jumper to make it a 10-point game.
The ‘Streaks chipped away at the lead with a quick four points, but Virginia’s Ethan Hanover nailed a three to put it back at nine, 42-33. Following a bucket from Warner, the Devils grabbed a pair of points from Peters and then another two more on a Carlson layup, making it a 46-35 game and forcing another Chisholm timeout.
The Devils began to increase their lead thanks to their defensive efforts turning into offensive opportunities. More threes from Hanover, Toman and Carlson kept the pressure on Chisholm’s Sundquist, who answered as much as he could.
Drives by Carlson and Peters made it a 62-48 game and a later bucket by Squires upped the gap to 17, 65-48. Virginia continued to stay out in front and increased their lead to the largest of the night at 21 thanks to a three-pointer from Dylan Johnson off the bench, 71-52.
The ‘Streaks managed to chip away at the lead in the closing minutes after the Devils had subbed their starters out, but it wasn’t enough as Virginia came away with the 74-63 win.
Carlson led Virginia with 24 points, with Toman finishing with a strong 16. Sundquist paced the ‘Streaks with 24. Bryce Warner added 16 and Abernathy finished with 11.
Playing a much stronger second half compared to the first, Coach Aho said Tuesday night was an example of what happens if you commit on defense.
“The second half really just shows what we can do when we create that intensity. We make those turnovers happen and everything starts coming together on the other end.”
With nine Devils finishing the night with points recorded, Aho says the team could do with some more confidence when it comes to putting the ball in the hoop and helping out their leading scorer in Carlson.
“We have to keep looking at all of our options when we want to score. Mason, he gets the points, but sometimes it feels like he has to do too much. When we start picking things up on defense, those other guys should look to score on offense off those turnovers. Sometimes they just need a little boost of confidence but the support is there and we have to find a way to get everyone involved much earlier.”
On contending with Chisholm’s Sundquist, Aho said his squad was aware of his scoring abilities. Containing him, however, was a different issue.
“We tried a few different things on him. We tried some man and got into some foul trouble because of it. We tried some box and one but he know he’s going to score points so we had to do what we could to limit that. Chisholm is a nice team and they’re going to hang in there the entire game so you have to put in a full effort against a team like that.”
Chisholm (2-3) will host Cherry next Tuesday. The Devils (2-3) are also off until next Tuesday when they host Eveleth-Gilbert. Giving his team some time to rest and get in a solid string of practices will be key according to Aho.
“It’ll be nice to have some practices and really find some time to better ourselves. We can focus on some good, hard practices for the rest of the week.”
Against the Bears specifically, Aho says he and his squad won’t be able to take any plays off when it comes to contending with E-G’s inside-out game.
“They definitely have Will [Bittmann] underneath and we’re going to have to do a better job of not allowing the ball inside. Then they have Carter [Mavec] on the outside and he’s always a threat to shoot the ball. They have [Jake] Sickel in there as well and he’s a scrapper.
“It’s going to be one of those games where we have to come out with the intensity or they’re going to run right over us. They’re a nice, solid team and they’re riding a high and we’re still finding ourselves.”
CHS 25 38 — 63
VHS 29 45 — 74
Chisholm: Noah Sundquist 10, Jude Sundquist 24, Bryce Warner 16, July Abernathy 11, Nathan Showalter 2; Three pointers: N. Sundquist 1, J. Sundquist 1, Warner 2; Free throws: 11-20; Total fouls: 20; fouled out: J. Sundquist.
Virginia: Dylan Johnson 4, Logan Nordy 6, Nick Peters 9, Gavin Dahl 3, Dan Squires 5, Jack Toman 15, Mason Carlson 24, Ethan Hanover 6, Noah Mitchell 2; Three pointers: Johnson 1, Nordby 1, Toman 2, Carslon 3, Hanover 2; Free throws: 15-28; Total fouls: 20; fouled out: none.
Deer River 73,
At Ely, the Timberwolves had no answer for Deer River’s Ty Morrison as an aggressive Deer River team downed Ely, 73-59.
Morrison led all scorers in the contest with 24 points and recorded his 1,000th career point in the win. Sam Rahier added 14 for Deer River and Tait Kongsjord finished with 13.
Joey Bianco led for Ely with 20 points. Will Davies added 18 and Brock LaTourell chipped in with 11.
Down by as much as 25 points, the Timberwolves managed to cut the lead down to 12 points in the second half, but that’s as close as they’d get Tuesday night, according to head coach Tom McDonald.
“They’re really solid all the way through their lineup. They’re big and athletic and they made a big run on us in the first half that we never really recovered from.”
Ely (3-2) will play host to Mesabi East on Friday.
DR 36 37 — 73
Ely 22 37 — 59
Deer River: Sam Rahier 14, Blake Fox 7, Ethan Williams 2, Mikhail Wakonabo 4, Fred Jackson 3, Dave McClellen 6, Tait Kongsjord 13, Ty Morrison 24; Three pointers: Rahier 2, McClellen 2, Fox 1, Jackson 1, Morrison 1; Free throws: 8-10; Total fouls: 13; Fouled out: none.
Ely: Joey Bianco 20, Brock LaTourell 11, Emmett Faltesek 5, Will Davies 18, Harry Simons 5; Three pointers: Davies 4, LaTourell 2, Faltesek 1, Simons 1; Free throws: 7-9; Total fouls: 11; Fouled out: none.