Eagles pull away from long range
Long-range shooting is a confidence thing for Evan Sczepanski.
"You hit the first one and it sets the tone,'' the East Grand Forks Sacred Heart junior said. "After you hit one or two (3-point shots), you think everything is going to go in.''
The Eagles hit a lot from long range Friday night. Sacred Heart had 12 treys—the difference in a matchup of boys high school unbeatens as the Eagles defeated visiting Kittson County Central 75-56.
Sacred Heart outscored the Bearcats 36-12 on treys and hit some timely long-range shots to break the game open.
The Bearcats led 14-10 midway through the first half, but Sacred Heart closed the half on a 22-8 run to build a 32-22 lead. Sacred Heart hit six treys in that spurt.
"We were shooting around 25 percent on the season (on 3-point shots),'' Sacred Heart coach Destry Sterkel said. "But the shooting came alive tonight. We did a great job.
"That's what this team can do, shoot the ball. Kittson County Central tested us. They gave us some open shots and we hit them.''
The 3-pointers were spread around. Sczepanski (14 points) and Jordan Tomkinson (22 points) each hit four treys. Brenden Bethke (17 points) and Ian Evavold (eight points) had a pair of 3-pointers each.
A 10-2 start to the second half put Sacred Heart ahead by 18 and the Eagles controlled the game the rest of the way, leading by as many as 27 points.
"They were really hot,'' KCC coach Chad Kujava said. "They're athletic. If you close on them (defensively) they can drive and get layups. So you have to pick your poison as far as what you give them. They have 4-5 guys who can hit the three.''
Style also was a factor, as the Eagles pushed for an up-tempo game. The Bearcats entered the game with a 58.7 scoring average compared to Sacred Heart's 80.3 average.
Pace "was the key to the game,'' Kujava said. "We stuck to our game plan for awhile and stayed with them.''
The Bearcats dominated in the post. Six-foot-5 Jadyn Swenson scored 20 and 6-2 Cole Johnson 10, with guard Jarrett Kujava adding 11. With Sacred Heart post Jack Gerber sitting extensively while in foul trouble, 5-10 Noah Chine was the Eagles' primary post defender.
"We got defensive stops at the end of the first half, too,'' Sterkel said. "Chine played a phenomenal defensive game.''
Sacred Heart improved to 5-0 while the Bearcats dropped to 3-1.