The start of a new decade brought a tough start for the Minneapolis boys basketball team.
Not only were the eighth-ranked Lions coming off of a loss before Christmas break in a thriller to Sacred Heart, they had the dubious distinction of trying to knock off Republic County on Friday night in Belleville–which is always a tough task.
Minneapolis shook off an ugly first half plagued by fouls to run past the improved Buffaloes, 65-39.
The final score did not indicate just how much the Lions had to sweat out the first half. Minneapolis would lead the entire way, however, both teams racked fouls with ease. By the end of the first quarter, both teams were in the bonus, while Republic County, found the double-bonus early on in the second quarter.
With that, Minneapolis struggled offensively with turnovers, as the Lions choked up the ball 12 times in the first half alone. Still, Minneapolis led 14-9 after one and 28-20 at halftime, in part, thanks to Spencer Davidson. The Lions’ Junior, Forward, found success in backing down the Buff defense; as he poured in 12 of his points in the first half alone.
However, the game was still very much in question midway through the third quarter, as Minneapolis led 32-26. That’s when MHS finally caught fire on the offensive end. Nolan White, who only scored two points in the first half, heated up with a big transition bucket, followed by a 3-point make. White would spark the Lions on a 10-0 run with 1:04 to go in the third.
The run propelled Minneapolis to a 46-28 lead to start the final stanza. Republic County, who had battled hard on Friday on its home court, appeared to run out of gas in the fourth, as Minneapolis outscored the Buffs 23-11 in the final quarter and 37-19 in the second half, alone.
Republic County (4-2, 1-2 NCAA) battled foul problems all night as Clint Callaway fouled out. Two other Buffaloes navigated around four fouls. Tate Lapo was the only Buffalo in double-figures with 10 points.
Minneapolis (6-1, 3-1 NCAA) also had to deviate around foul problems as Derek Freel fouled out and two other Lions played with four fouls, each. However, the win over Republic County was the fifth-straight for Minneapolis over the Buffaloes and the third-straight in Belleville.
Leading Minneapolis on Friday night was a season-best 22 points for Davidson. White heated up in the second half to tally in 18 points, while Jonah Ausherman poured in 12.
Minneapolis is off this coming Tuesday before hosting Southeast of Saline next Friday.
Republic County Girls 49, MINNEAPOLIS 41
The Lady Lions of Minneapolis scrapped all game and actually took multiple leads on the home-standing Republic County Lady Buffs, however, the lead never lasted long and Republic County used a big fourth quarter to pull away for its fourth-straight win.
Once again, Minneapolis started out the game ice cold and only scored once in the first quarter. The Lady Lions trailed 9-2 after one.
The second quarter though, was one of the best played periods of the year for MHS. Minneapolis used an 11-2 run to surge to a 13-10 lead midway through the second quarter. Republic County would answer, however, with a huge 3-pointer–a theme the Buffs followed all night. That led Republic County to a 16-15 halftime advantage.
Once again, behind Cameron Cleveland, Minneapolis would surge in front of the Lady Buffs to take a 22-18 lead midway through the third.
Unfortunately, Republic County used a 13-0 run toward end of the quarter to take a 31-22 lead–its largest.
The Lady Buffs led 31-24 after three. While Minneapolis scrapped all fourth quarter and made Republic County work it, it was too much hot shooting for the Lady Buffs beyond the arch as they surged for the win.
Republic County (4-2, 3-0 NCAA) has now won four-straight on the year. Izzy Wheeler led the way with 11 points for RC, while both Alexis Hansen and Sadee Graves scored 10 points, each.
Minneapolis (2-5, 1-3 NCAA) saw a career-high 16 points scored by their Sophomore, Cleveland. Meanwhile, Kersti Nelson scored 10 in a losing effort.
Next up, Minneapolis is off this Tuesday. Both Lion teams then host rival, Southeast of Saline next Friday. Live coverage begins at 5:45 p.m. on Salina radio station, 92.7 The New Zoo.