This wasn’t the same team Sheboygan South saw a few months ago.
No, this was a seriously morphed, much-improved Sheboygan North bunch.
For one thing, Eli Belmore was at the helm of North’s offense this time. The junior point guard had to sit out the last North-South rivalry boys basketball game with a sprained ankle he’d suffered earlier that day.
For another, the Golden Raiders weren’t going to get bullied in the paint this time after South owned the boards and enjoyed a decided scoring advantage in the Redwings’ 58-39 win back in December.
North controlled the rebounds and played stout defense to recover from a sluggish start and claim a 53-42 win at South on the Redwings’ home floor on Saturday.
“It’s always good to get a win, that’s what it’s about,” North coach Tom Desotell said after the game. “…This game was a game against two teams scrapping to get established this year, and we happened to get the jump on them and played pretty good defense.”
Davis Larson erupted for 19 points and Belmore added 12 to help power the Raiders (7-13, 7-8 Fox River Classic Conference), who took advantage of a few small scoring spurts in the first half to eventually take a thin lead by halftime — one they kept building onto in the third and fourth quarters.
TJ Pitsch scored 15 points to lead South (9-11, 7-7 FRCC), including a few clutch 3s that helped keep South in the running all game long.
“Tip my hat off to North,” South coach Mike Rank said. “I think they dug down, they played hard and they took it at us.”
South looked poised to take control of the game early on after going on a 12-4 run to start the first quarter. But an 8-0 North run spanning the first and second periods, and another 6-0 run later in the first half helped push the Raiders into the driver’s seat.
Santos Valenciana, who finished with four points for North, hit an important 3 to tie the game midway through the second quarter and later hit a free throw to give North its first lead of the game with about 3 minutes, 30 seconds left in the half. South never regained the upper hand on the scoreboard again.
The Redwings cut into North’s lead early in the second half when a Conner Harrison field goal lifted South to within two points of the Raiders. But clutch free-throw shooting and a few key shots later in the quarter helped North stay in control.
South dominated the boards in December’s game — they outrebounded North 36-20 in that contest. But North turned the tables Saturday, collecting 41 rebounds to South’s 25.
“I think, you know, from Day One our identity’s tried to be good on defense and outrebound teams, and I think tonight they outrebounded us and we did not play well defensively,” Rank said. “That’s not a good combination for us.”
Sheb. North…6 18 17 12 — 53
Sheb. South…12 8 12 10 — 42
Sheboygan North — Valenciana 4, Belmore 12, VanVeghel 3, Hasenstein 5, Rudolph 8, Larson 19, Suscha 2. 3-pt: Valenciana, Rudolph. FT: 21-36. Fouls: 14.
Sheboygan South — Pitsch 15, Zietz 3, Miller 3, Harrison 2, Selk 4, Amundsen 6, Reklaitis 9. 3-pt: Pitsch 3, Miller. FT: 8-14. Fouls: 23.