No. 9 New London falls just short of SEISC title game
BY ANDY KRUTSINGER
Mt. Pleasant News
RIVERSIDE — The No. 9 New London boys needed to pick up a win at Highland on Tuesday night to earn a spot into the SEISC championship game this weekend but a hungry Husky team was just too much.
Highland led start to finish and held off a late Tiger run to win the game, 72-62.
The Huskies got off to a fast start, getting points inside at will to start the game.
Freshman Zack Lasek was on fire from the opening tip. He dominated inside in the first half, scoring 14 points in the first half to put the pressure on New London.
Mason Porter lit up the scoreboard for the Tigers throughout the first half despite missing some time with early foul trouble.
Porter scored nine points in the first half to keep the Tigers in it at 21-15, and added seven more in the second quarter to finish the half at 16 points.
Highland held a 38-28 lead going into halftime but the Tigers came out with an aggressive full court press in the third quarter.
“I told them to find something to play for,” New London coach Bryant Porter said. “We (had) a chance to win our conference. I just try to find something to motivate them.”
The patented New London pressure forced a few turnovers early to cut the lead to a couple of possessions early in the period, but the Huskies were able to pull away later in the period and held a 53-44 lead after three quarters.
Keontae Luckett, who was scoreless in the first half, started to feel it late in the game. He hit one three-pointer and got a few points inside, finishing with 10 points in the second half.
But on the other side, Highland got a nice second half out of a handful of players, including Trent Lasek, who scored nine points in the final two periods after a scoreless first half.
New London had the lead down to four points in the second half but the Huskies kept it at two possessions with a flurry of inside points and walked out with a 10-point win.
The score was close throughout the game but Highland never let New London get ahead, leading wire to wire to get revenge over a 15-point loss in New London earlier this season.
“It’s hard to do that against a good team,” said Highland coach Marcus Hall after the win. “Some of those little intricacies can help you get there. I thought our defense was good when they did cut the lead down, and then (we got) a few offensive rebounds.”
Hall says the team’s inside presence helped keep the pressure on with offensive boards and three-point plays to continually frustrate the Tigers.
“That really helps break the momentum,” Hall said. “Second chance points really helped us keep that separation.”
Zack finished with 24 points to lead the Huskies to victory. Bill Burton had 14 points and Bryce Clark scored 10 to give Highland three double-digit scorers.
Trent finished with nine points in the win. Chase Rath and Trey Lasek had six apiece and Jake Wood scored three.
Porter finished with a game-high 27 points. Luckett had 10 points and three assists and Grant Swanson had 10 points and nine rebounds.
Alex Dentlinger scored nine points in the loss and the trio of Blake Nehring, Isaac McSorley and Justin Henecke scored two points apiece.
“We didn’t defend well once again,” said Coach Porter about the loss. “We’ve had three really bad defensive nights and they’ve all ended in L’s. We just gotta find our defense again.”
Highland moved to 13-3 with the win and the Tigers fell to 16-3 after the loss. Both teams will be at SCC this Friday, Sept. 10, for their SEISC shootout game.
New London will face Lone Tree at 6 p.m. Highland and West Burlington will follow at 7:30 p.m., for the SEISC title.