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East Grand Forks Senior High defense sparks win over Sacred Heart

Senior High used a 16-4 run late in the first half to pull away from Sacred Heart 54-39 in the Green Wave gym.

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The Green Wave forward Jeremiah Haavig drives the ball past Sacred Heart's Beau Votava (33) in the first half of Thursday's Minnesota boys basketball season opener at East Grand Forks Senior High. Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald

Both East Grand Forks Senior High and East Grand Forks Sacred Heart boys basketball coaches were pleased with their defensive effort Thursday night in the season opener for both teams.

The Green Wave defense, though, was a little stingier.

Senior High used a 16-4 run late in the first half to pull away from Sacred Heart 54-39 in the Green Wave gym.

It was a delayed season opener due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Both teams were mandated by the state to wear masks, although proper usage varied widely among players on the court.

"I thought our defense was phenomenal," East Grand Forks coach Josh Perkerwicz said. "That absolutely won us the game. Sacred Heart, give them credit, they tried to slow us down as much as they could. They know us very well and know the style we play. But I can't believe in nine days we were able to accomplish what we did defensively."

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The Green Wave were led by Sam Votava's 17 points. Votava, typically a point guard, was effective in Senior High's zone offense, with the ball in his hands from a post look.

Votava kickstarted the Wave's first big rally. With Sacred Heart hanging around, down 14-13 with six minutes left in the first half, Votava scored five quick points -- two free throws and a 3-pointer to stretch the lead to six.

A few minutes later, Jeremiah Haavig completed a three-point play after he scored through contact on an inside feed from Votava. Haavig's free throw gave Senior High a 30-17 advantage.

After leading 32-22 at halftime, the Wave put the game away early in the second half. Senior High opened the second half on a 7-0 run, capped by a Carter Vasek corner 3-pointer for a 39-22 lead with 14:45 remaining.

"Offensively, we struggled with the pressure," Sacred Heart coach Destry Sterkel said. "It's hard to replicate East Side's pressure in practice. We missed a lot of good shots. But defensively, to hold them to 54 points is really good. Proud of our defense."

Sacred Heart was led by Adam Sczepanski and Kobe Tomkinson. Both players finished with nine points. The Eagles were also hampered by an injury to junior guard Sam Gapp, who's expected back later this month.

For the Wave, Votava was joined in double figures by Tanner Campos, who had 11.

"I think the energy from our bench guys really put us over the top," Perkerwicz said. "It felt like it was tight and then couple of guys came in fresh off the bench. They got a couple loose balls, couple offensive rebounds and a couple extra shots and that sparked everyone to play hard."

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EGF Senior High 54, EGF Sacred Heart 39

Halftime: Senior High 32, Sacred Heart 22

EGF Sacred Heart -- Cullen Rohrich 2, Isaac Zavoral 8, Carmello Rojas 5, Adam Sczepanski 9, Adam Sobolik 2, Zach Martin 4, Kobe Tomkinson 9

EGF Senior High -- Jonathan Krueger 3, Joey Votava 6, Carter Vasek 6, Sam Votava 17, Tanner Campos 11, Cole Gerber 2, Jeremiah Haavig 3, Tyson Mahar 2, Spencer Egeland 2, Kaleb Zejdlik 2

Related Topics: BASKETBALLPREP SPORTS
Miller has covered sports at the Grand Forks Herald since 2004 and was the state sportswriter of the year in 2019.

His primary beat is UND football but also reports on a variety of UND sports and local preps.

He can be reached at (701) 780-1121, tmiller@gfherald.com or on Twitter at @tommillergf.
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