MITCHELL — In the Washington boys basketball team’s game Monday afternoon at the Corn Palace against Minneapolis’ DeLaSalle, the Warriors had the clear size advantage, but they also had three turnovers before scoring a point.
“We needed to handle the ball better and make more passes to give our bigs a chance to work,” Washington head coach Craig Nelson said
That doomed the Warriors against the Islanders, as they had the luxury of going up against a team that largely played without a true post player but couldn’t distribute the ball well enough into the openings that DeLaSalle’s pressure defense created. Washington forced overtime after Zach Heins put a layup home with nine seconds left end regulation with a 48-48 tie, but the Warriors were outscored 11-5 in the extra period and lost 59-53.
DeLaSalle topped out height-wise with the 6-foot-4 Robert Hannah, and Washington had the 6-foot-6 Heins and 6-foot-4 Isaak Goemann to give point guard Logan Uttrecht plenty of opportunities to create looks in the post.
“We’ve played them enough in the past that we know they’re going to pressure us,” Nelson said. “So we know with all that ball pressure, it’s going to open up some driving lanes. But with that pressure, it gets you going a little bit faster than you’re used to, and (you end up) forcing up some tougher shots. You’re not able to get under control and shoot it normally like you would.”
Though Nelson said it wasn’t necessarily by design, the vast majority of the Warriors’ offensive activity came on looks from short range, as the team only had one three-pointer in the game. And early on, the physically-intensive style was working, as Goeman finished a short basket through contact and Heins had a layup on a long pass in transition and another off a missed three-pointer to give Washington a 12-8 lead.
“I feel like we had matchups down low with Isaak, and he was dominating, so he kept getting the ball,” Uttrecht said.
DeLaSalle responded with seven points of its own, though, and the teams exchanged baskets the rest of the half to send the game to halftime tied 17-17.
The second half was far more open and free-flowing, with the Islanders taking less than eight minutes to best their first-half scoring total, and Washington couldn’t get the quality shots in the post to match the hot shooting of DeLaSalle’s Gabe Kalscheur.
The Warriors were nine points down with just over eight minutes to play, but they tightened up defensively and Uttrecht took a more aggressive approach on offense, pulling down an offensive board and hitting two free throws to pull Washington within four and following that with a layup-and-one to make the deficit a single point.
Washington only managed one field goal in overtime, however, and fell to 3-2 on the season after opening the year with three straight wins. Kalscheur led all scorers with 23 points on the game, and Goeman and Heins had 12 each for the Warriors.