The Minneapolis Lions were locked in a tight battle with a young, but yet scrappy, Bennington team midway through the third quarter.
That’s when Spencer Davidson and the Lions ran away, using a 21-0 run to blow the game wide open and Minneapolis ultimately winning, 74-44.
The Lions were without one of its top scorers and leaders, so they needed to make a few adjustments coming in to Thursday night at Bennington High School for the second round of the Tri-County Classic.
Still, Minneapolis was able to build a 22-14 lead after the first quarter.
However, the Bulldogs of Bennington had no ideas of just laying down. Led by Ryker Greene in the first half and his eight points, Bennington would chip away at the lead to get to within 30-26 at halftime. The Bulldogs were able to hold the juggernaut Minneapolis offense to just eight second period points.
Bennington then came out of the locker room and knocked down a 3-pointer to pull within one point right away–the closest the Dogs ever got.
Midway through the third quarter, it was Minneapolis 39, Bennington 35. That’s when the Lions awoke in a major way.
Led by Spencer Davidson’s scoring and rebounding, the Lions clamped down on the Bennington back court and forced numerous second half turnovers, which then led to easy transition buckets. Nolan White also hit some tough shots, while Davidson couldn’t be stopped on the offensive end. Bennington just had no answer for Davidson, who scored at will in deep.
After the dust settled, and the 21-0 run was over, Minneapolis held a 25 point lead in the fourth quarter. The Lions then cruised for the win to remain unbeaten.
Bennington (0-3, 0-0 HOA) had its moments. The young Bulldogs were anchored by freshman, Talan Pickering, who scored 13 points to lead the Dogs.
Minneapolis (3-0, 0-0 NCAA) goes to 2-0 in the Tri-County Classic and outscored Bennington 44-18 in the second half. White scored a season-best 17 points in the win.
Meanwhile, the Nex-Tech Wireless “Player of the Game” is Davidson, who registered a monster double-double. He scored a career-high 25 points and pulled in 17 rebounds as well. Brody Vance wins the H&R “Block of the Game.”
The Lions will play Solomon on Friday night for the TCC championship–which would be the second in-a-row for Minneapolis. Meanwhile, Bennington will host Ell-Saline.
Bennington Girls 33, MINNEAPOLIS 27
Short-handed Minneapolis fought and battled all game. They gave the Bulldogs–who made a trip to the 2A State Tournament last winter and return numerous starters–all they could ask for. However, it was the Bulldogs’ veteran players who made big plays down the stretch to rescue Bennington.
Minneapolis was without two senior contributors on Thursday night. But the Lady Lions did not bow down easily.
After Bennington got out to an early 11-3 lead and led 11-5 after one, Minneapolis then rallied. The Lady Lions, led by Courtney Forte, grabbed a 14-11 lead late in the first half. A Kyla Kind 3-pointer tied things up at halftime, 14-14.
The low scoring affair continued in to the third quarter as the two teams remained tied at 21-21 going in to the fourth.
Minneapolis actually led for the majority of the final period, as Forte added in two monster and-one makes. However, the experienced Bennington guards of Peyton Piepho and Kind made two huge 3-pointers down the stretch to gain the lead.
Piepho then sealed the game in the final two minutes with two free-throw makes.
Bennington (1-0, 0-0 HOA) was a little rusty offensively in its first game of the year, after having its first two games postponed. Kind led the Bulldogs with 13 points.
Minneapolis (0-3, 0-0 NCAA) continues a tough start. All three of the Lady Lions losses have come by nine points or less.
Forte is the Nex-Tech Wireless “Player of the Game” with another double-double, 14 points and 14 rebounds. Meanwhile, Maggie Shupe wins the H&R “Block of the Game” for Minneapolis.
Friday is the final round of the Tri-County Classic, as Bennington hosts rival, Ell-Saline. That game starts at 5:45 p.m. on FM 104.9. Minneapolis travels to Solomon with broadcast coverage beginning at 5:45 p.m. on 92.7 The New Zoo.
Image credit: Minneapolis High School student, Koyer Hauck