Concordia finds comfort, Angola uses pressure in Sectional opening night prep hoops victories
Control was critical for Concordia Lutheran on Tuesday night in a 69-65 opening round win over Leo. The Cadets picked up their first win over a team with a winning record this season, never trailing against one of the Northeast 8’s power programs.
Concordia jetted out to a 7-0 lead and found breathing room and comfort through the first half by forcing the Lions to speed up and into mistakes. The pressure of Concordia sophomore Brayden Pearson on Leo senior Jeremy Davison was critical in affecting the tempo. The Cadets entered the Leo passing lanes time after time and then leaked out into the corners finding open shots from junior Adam Gottschalk while classmate Jadon Dance got to the basket at will. They took that same seven point lead into the halftime break.
“Whenever you can play with a lead, it is big,” Concordia coach Austin Thoms said. “Our preparation coming into this game was huge; they executed the game plan perfectly. Obviously Jeremy is a great player, we knew we had to lock in on him.”
The second half was all Concordia for the first 11 minutes, expanding their lead to as many as 16 with 3:30 left in the third quarter.
The final five minutes of the game were pure chaos, with the Cadets entering the last portion with a 56-46 lead before Leo mounted their last ditch comeback led off by senior Lane Reed scoring on a putback. The teams traded blows for several minutes and after a Jeren Kindig three pointer pushed the lead to 61-53, Leo freshman Blake Davison scored five straight points and Reed added a pair of free throws to cut the Concordia lead to just two at 62-60.
It was the closest the game had been since 2-0 and as close as it would get. Alex Bartkowiak, Pearson and Gottschalk would all connect on free throws down the stretch to clinch the win.
“They have three or four guys on the floor that can space the floor and knockdown shots at a high percentage,” Thoms said. “Hats off to our guys for the resolve they showed when they [Leo] did make their run because we knew at halftime they were going to come out ready to go and our guys just battled.”
Concordia Lutheran will now play Garrett on Friday in the sectional semifinal at New Haven.
“Garrett has been playing better, they play a 2-3 zone that is very active and we have two days to prepare for them, so we are just going to take it one practice at a time, one game at a time and see what happens,” Thoms said.
Dance and Gottschalk each scored 19 points to lead Concordia. Dance added eight rebounds and Gottschalk had 10 boards. Jeremy Davison lead Leo with 20 points, Reed had 12 points, Luke Stoller had 13 points and 10 rebounds and Blake Davison had 10 points.
Angola beats Woodlan 55-41
Angola never allowed Woodlan room to breathe as they applied pressure on both sides of the ball in Tuesday’s 6 p.m. sectional opener at New Haven. The Hornets eliminated Woodlan, 55-41.
On the offensive end, Angola worked to get inside consistently in the first half of the game, forcing Woodlan’s Ah’lan Howard into foul trouble and taking one of the Warriors biggest weapons out of the game. That same pressure applied in the second half when Braydon Hart worked inside to force Woodlan senior Aaron Hahn into foul trouble. Hahn ultimately fouled out of the game with 3:45 to play on an offensive foul call.
“It was very important to get some of their players out of the game so we could play our game. We slowed them down, which is our game,” Hart said. “A lot of the teams in this sectional don’t play many teams that slow it down like we do.”
Angola’s defense was able to lock Hahn in with a variety of defenses and traps, holding the senior leader to just 10 points, a game high for Woodlan.
“Aaron Hahn is a really good player. They kind of roll the way that he rolls, so I just knew we had to get out and guard him,” Angola coach Ed Bentley said. “I thought if we could do that at a high level, we would be OK. I just thought we had to come out and be composed.”
The Hornets led from very early on in the first quarter with a 6-0 run in the opening minutes after falling behind 4-2. Getting their feet under them was key for Angola, who has not been experienced in playing in the early Tuesday game in Sectional play.
The win goes a long way in bouncing momentum back to Angola’s way. After upsetting East Noble just a week ago, the Hornets had a bit of a letdown last Friday with a seven point loss to Lakeland.
“It brings our team together a little more, leadership has been great,” Hart said.
“We had a little letdown, I’ll call it what it is — Friday night, we didn’t play real well. So we had a couple of spirited days of practice and spirited film session,” Bentley said. “We’re not going to lie to each other. We’re going to show each other what we were doing. I think that pays off.”
Hart led Angola for 17 points and Braxton Meek added 16. Angola will now play host New Haven on Friday night.