Comets catch Cougars by the tail
BCLUW erases 15-point deficit in second half of divisional win
CONRAD — BCLUW senior guard Jesse Moore dribbled the ball out to half-court and watched the clock strike zero.
Clutching the ball to his side, he let out a scream as his teammates started to celebrate their 57-53 comeback win over the rival AGWSR Cougars Friday night.
It was a big win for the Comets (1-1) — with implications for NICL West divisional play and for the team’s mindset as the season gets underway.
Moore knew the importance of the game.
“We just kept going and going,” Moore said. “We started to have fun, and then at the end it was an amazing feeling.”
After trailing by as much as 15 points in the third quarter, the Comets pulled it together and ground out the victory behind 44 combined points from Moore (game-high 23) and fellow senior Noah Gallentine (21 points and three 3-pointers).
The game started out slowly, with neither team reaching double figures until near the end of the first quarter. The Cougars started out with a press and invited the Comets to shoot threes all game long — something BCLUW did too quickly for head coach Evan Janssen’s liking, he said postgame.
Janssen emphasized the team’s need to get into a more consistent offensive game and work the ball to get the best shot available — not the first shot available.
AGWSR led for much of the first half and held a four-point advantage at the break. In the third quarter the Cougars jumped out to a double-digit lead and had BCLUW up against the ropes. Janssen said it was another sign of how far the Comets have to go that they allowed themselves to fall behind so far.
“Confidence with humility,” Janssen said. “[We] were humbled tonight. They came in here expecting to win by a lot tonight and they didn’t. They need to realize that, you know what, we’ve got a long way to go. We’ve got skilled players in each position but you gotta learn how to play your positions better.”
Part of the reason BCLUW was able to turn the tide was the fast break. Moore was constantly pushing the pace and trying to get the Comets into transition opportunities where possible, a big change from the sometimes sluggish pace of the BCLUW offense last season. This has to do with the loss to Mason Yantis and Trey Teske to graduation. Without two pillars of the offense, Janssen said the Comets have changed tactics and want to get the pace up in order to create turnovers and easy scoring chances. The Comets also effectively deployed a press at intervals throughout the contest. The fourth quarter started with BCLUW trailing by nine points, but the Comets scored 10 of the first 12 to get within one point and stayed right on the Comets’ tail.
Taking the lead with less than three minutes remaining at 53-51, BCLUW’s defense had to step up majorly to cling on to the advantage.
Moore said the coaches call it a “dog mentality” in practice.
“We stress defensive stance like all the time,” Moore said. “When it’s a close game like that, it’s almost like you stop being tired. You’ve gotta get stops.”
AGWSR failed to create concrete opportunities late on to change the outcome. A missed 3-pointer with eight seconds left was the final nail in the coffin for the Cougars as Moore corralled the rebound.
It’s not the perfect performance from BCLUW — Janssen made clear this team is a work in progress. But with so much on the line — first blood in a divisional battle, the chance to defeat Janssen’s high school alma mater — BCLUW’s senior leadership showed up and carried the Comets over the line for their first win.
“We got bigger goals than just beating AGWSR,” Janssen said. “We can’t just settle on this one.”
Up next for BCLUW is a home game Monday night against Belle Plaine.
BCLUW 57, AGWSR 53
AGWSR (1-1, 0-1) — Daniel Stahl 4 2-2 12, Jaden Penning 4 6-10 14, David Koop 5 1-4 12, Ben Macy 2 0-0 6, Chase Harms 2 0-2 4, Brady Roder 1 0-0 2, Darren Veld 0 3-4 3. TOTALS 18 12-22 53.
BCLUW (1-1, 1-0) — Colton Keller 1 2-4 4, Noah Gallentine 8 2-3 21, Jesse Moore 10 0-1 23, Tanner McLeland 0 0-0 0, Jack Hughes 1 3-5 5, Parker Pike 2 0-0 4, Noah Cross 0 0-0 0. TOTALS 22 7-13 57.
AGWSR 14 14 16 9 — 53
BCLUW 12 12 11 22 — 57
3-Point Goals–AGWSR 5 (Stahl 2, Macy 2, Koop), BCLUW 6 (Gallentine 3, Moore 3). Team Fouls–AGWSR 15, BCLUW 19. Fouled Out–Hughes.