TRUMAN - The Truman/Martin Luther boys basketball team made the most of its newly-combined lineup, downing the Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton Bulldogs, 61-50, in the opening-round of the Tip-Off Tournament on Friday night in Truman.
"I thought that we played really well together considering it was our first game with the new combination," said Truman/Martin Luther head coach Roland Wendt. "These guys have been beating their heads in playing against each other for the last eight years - it's great that they can now play together."
T/ML had its hands full with the Bulldogs right to the end of the game as JWP 6-foot-4 sophomore Ricky Johnson sank two free throws with 2:50 left in the game to make it a three-point game at 51-48.
TEAMWORK — Truman/Martin?Luther’s Sam Geistfeld (10) and Cade Ekstrom challenge a shot by JWP’s Kyle Fisel (21) during Friday night’s Tipoff Tournament in Truman. T/ML’s Jeremy Smith (3) and DaMarko Thomas (5), along with JWP’s Devon Lynch await a possible rebound. Photo by Leanna Becker
Just under a minute later, T/ML junior Sam Geistfeld sank one of his six free throws to make it a two-score game.
From there, T/ML kept the ball in the trusted hands of seniors Cade Ekstrom and Jeremy Smith, as the Bulldogs fouled to try and stay in the game.
"I thought we transitioned really well in the game. We played quick the first half, and they switched to zone on us and we were able to figure that out, too," said Wendt.
Ekstrom sank three of four free throws in the final minutes as the Bulldogs sent him to the line, finishing with nine points, while Smith went 5-for-12 from the floor for 12 points.
T/ML jumped out to a 5-0 lead with a 3-pointer from Smith and a basket from inside the lane by the 6-2 Geistfeld.
Sophomore Alex Weihe and Geistfeld combined for 14 of T/ML's first-half points, with Geistfeld finishing the game 4 of 12 from the field and 5-for-6 from the free throw line with 13 points while Weihe finished 8-for-14 with 10 points to help lead the team.
"I thought that Alex had a great game inside for us," said Wendt. "When you have four or five guys scoring in double digits, you'll win quite a few games."
A quick couple baskets by JWP got it within two with just under 15 minutes left to play in the opening half. Sophomore Kyle Fisel gave the Bulldogs their first lead with 14:35 left in the opening half, drawing a foul and sinking two free throws to make it 7-5.
With the Bulldogs making a run and looking to take their second lead of the game, Smith stole a cross-court pass and took it the length of the court for a lay-up to make it 11-10 with 12 minutes remaining in the half.
The teams traded baskets, but neither could manage a lengthy lead.
With JWP trailing by one with just over a minute left in the half, junior guard Sawyer Gahler made a steal and was fouled on the layup, giving him a chance to take the lead.
Fortunately for T/ML, Gahler missed both charity tosses, giving it the 32-31 lead at half.
DaMarko Thomas finished with six rebounds and went 4-for-7 shooting, making his lone free throw of the night on a traditional three-point play late in the second half to score nine points.
Truman/Martin Luther (1-0) advances in the tournament to face Madelia in the championship at 1:30 p.m. today in Madelia.
Madelia 73, Immanuel Lutheran 59 - The Blackhawks basketball team shut down the Trojans in the second half to win 73-59 in the opening round of the Tip-Off Tournament in Truman on Friday.
Senior Devin Ulmen scored 25 points and had nine rebounds, while dealing out four assists to lead the Blackhawks' 30-of-56 shooting effort.
Jack Bergeman added 23 points, while Derrick Van Hee dished out four assists for the Blackhawks.
Madelia (1-0) advances to the championship to face Truman/Martin Luther today at 1:30 p.m. in Madelia.
Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton (0-1) and Immanuel Lutheran (0-1) will play in the third-place game at noon today in Madelia.
North Iowa 69, North Union 32 - The Bison basketball team stampeded the Warriors, 69-32, during nonconference Iowa action on Friday night in Buffalo Center, Iowa.
Aric Runge led the North Union scoring effort with 14 points, while collecting six rebounds and making four blocks.
Colton McConnell added eight points, while Kaleb Olson and Trent Fothergill each scored two.
Shane Mills tallied four points, grabbed five rebounds, made two steals and smacked one block for the Warriors.
Matt Adams led North Union with seven rebounds and made three steals in the game.
North Union (0-3) hosts Newell-Fonda for a 7:30 p.m. game Thursday night in Armstrong.