EAST CHAIN - The Granada-Huntley-East Chain boys basketball team has started out each of their first three games with a first-half lead and Tuesday night was no different.
This time though, the Mustangs held off the Madelia Blackhawks for a 72-59 Valley Conference win in East Chain.
Ryan Shumski dominated inside the paint, with 13 first half points, while sophomore Josh Wolter lit up the 3-point line for 11 to help the Mustangs take a 40-25 first half lead.
USING THE SCREEN — Granada-Huntley-East Chain’s Josh Wolter (right) drives toward teammate Josh Johanson’s screen on Madelia’s Jack Bergeman (10) during basketball action Tuesday night at East Chain School. The Mustangs’ Ryan Shumski (back left) and Madelia’s Riley Benzel (35) maneuver for position. (Photo by Leanna Becker)
"In the first half I thought that we moved the ball well, ran our offense and got some good shots," said Granada-Huntley-East Chain head coach Scott Chirpich. "Defensively we lost track of some shooters, but we were able to finish this game off."
Jordan Henry provided an offensive spark off the bench for the Blackhawks, swishing two 3s and two inside jumpers for 10 points in the first half.
As the second half got under way, the Blackhawks used a full-court press to disrupt the Mustangs' offensive rhythm.
"The first half really hasn't been our problem, we've led each of our games at halftime," said Chripich. "But we got in a hurry when they started pressing us and made mistakes. It took us a little while to calm down and run the offense."
With the help of Derrick VanHee's four 3-pointers, the Blackhawks were able to chip away at the Mustang lead.
Then senior Riley Benzel was fouled at the 7:30 mark of the second half, sending him to the free throw line. Benzel's two swished free throws got the Blackhawks within 10 at 54-44.
On the ensuing Mustang possession, Jake Wolter skipped a bounce pass to Trent Stensland on the block for the basket and the foul for a traditional three-point play.
Stensland converted the free throw, giving the Mustangs a 13-point lead.
Two minutes later, with the game still in doubt, Josh Wolter, who finished with 18 points, stole a Blackhawk inbound pass in the Mustang's end looking to seal the win.
A sizzled pass to a cutting Jared Green for a layup gave the Mustangs a 64-49 lead, and muffled any Blackhawk momentum.
Shumski finished with a game-high 23 points and nine boards for the Mustangs, while Stensland added 16 points and five rebounds.
Wolter poured in 18 points, including nine from outside the arc and Josh Johanson tallied seven points, made three steals and snagged four boards.
VanHee's second half 3-point performance helped him generate a team-leading 15 points for the Blackhawks, while Henry finished with 13 in the game.
Granada-Huntley-East Chain (1-2, 1-1 Valley) travels to play Mankato Loyola in a conference game at 2:30 p.m. Saturday in Mankato.
Madelia (2-3, 0-2 Valley) hosts Alden-Conger in a conference game at 7:30 p.m. Friday in Madelia.
Martin County West 56, St. Clair 47 - Cordell Weber produced a game-high 21 points to engineer the Mavericks' nine-point Valley Conference victory over the Cyclones on Tuesday night in Trimont.
Weber also pulled down six rebounds, Alex Biehn scored nine points, while Jake Faber generated six points and hauled in a game-high 13 rebounds for MCW.
The Mavericks scorched the nets on 15 of 31 shots from 2-point range, 7 of 23 from behind the 3-point arc and 5 of 8 at the free throw line.
Ryan Kruse scored 16 points and Tyler Fandrich chipped in 12 points for St. Clair, which made 3 of 6 free throws on the game.
Martin County West (4-0, 2-0 Valley) plays Truman/Martin Luther on Thursday, Dec. 19, in Truman.
St. Clair 24-23-47