Aberdeen Central's long losing streak ended, but a string of losses continued for Rapid City Stevens.
Aberdeen, which led for all except the first three minutes of the game, stopped a 27-game losing streak with a 60-54 win over Rapid City Stevens in non-conference high school boys' basketball action on Thursday at Golden Eagles Arena. Stevens fell to 0-5 to begin the season.
This win is due to our defense, said Central coach Brent Norberg. We wanted to keep them in the 50s to win. We don't have the fire power to score in the 60s. We kept them to 54 and we won a game. I'm proud of our guys because they had to make stops. The offense got going early, but in the second half, it got a little tougher. We kept playing defense the whole game.
Stevens jumped out to a 6-0 lead on three-point field goals by Connor Farrar and Eli Schnell to open the scoring. The Golden Eagles tied the game four times in the first quarter and took a 16-15 lead to end the first eight minutes.
The second quarter belonged to the home team as Aberdeen outscored Rapid City 17-8, including eight points by Reid Fust. The Golden Eagles used a 1-4 offensive set with all the players away from the basket.
We used a couple of new sets that we just put in this morning, said Fust. They happened to work. We are able to drive and use back cuts and screens. It got us some wide-open threes. The pick-and-roll game also worked.
Central's biggest lead of the game came in the second quarter and was 13 points.
We put everybody up high, said Norberg. We feel that we have some guys that can be effective if we have room in the lane. Carter Paulsen is so good at ball screens and rolling and Roman Orr is getting good at it. We can put Reid (Fust) in the middle and have him make plays. They like playing it. We can't run it all the time, but it gets us some good looks.
The Raiders chipped away and pulled to within one point at 42-41 at the end of the third quarter on a three-point field goal by Steven Schaefer and a two-pointer by Jake Heck.
Aberdeen's lead was trimmed to 50-49 with five minutes left in the game. The Eagles boosted the lead to 54-49 on field goals by Paulsen and Braden LeGrand after an offensive rebound.
The Raiders missed three free throws and came up empty on two possessions. Rapid City made it 54-41 with two minutes left in the game on a field goal by Eric Drake and tied it at 54-all on a three pointer by Schaefer.
Central's Aaron Lorenz made two free throws with one minute on the clock. The Raiders were trying a layup on their next possession, but Central's Josh White blocked the shot and Central got possession of the basketball.
The Raiders misfired on their last two possessions and the Eagles grabbed up the rebounds. Aberdeen made four of six free throws in the final 44 seconds.
We made a lot of stops in a row down the stretch and got some rebounds and didn't give them second chances the last four or five possessions. That was huge. When you win games by making stops, it makes you really proud as a coach. The kids guarded some players that are hard to guard, said Norberg.
Stevens was led by Adam Drake with 19 points in the game and Schaefer with 13.
Fust topped Central with 16 points and nine rebounds, and LeGrand hit double figures with 11 points. Five additional Central players scored between four and nine points.
The Golden Eagles don't want to be content with just one win.
This doesn't make our season, said Norberg. Our goal wasn't to win one game. It was to try and win a bunch of games and get to the state tournament.
Fust agreed with his coach. It was tough not winning for a whole year, he said. We still have to focus on winning. Getting to the state tournament is our goal.
Aberdeen Central returns to action today at 3:30 p.m. at Golden Eagles Arena against Rapid City Central. Aberdeen's last win before Thursday night was against Rapid City Central in the semifinals of the State AA boys' basketball tournament in March 2010. The Golden Eagles last home win was March 9, 2010, against Rapid City Stevens in the Region 2AA championship game.