GAME OF THE WEEK (Dec. 5–11)
BOYS BASKETBALL: Darlington 63, Mineral Point 53
MINERAL POINT — It was a pretty special opening week of conference play for the Darlington Redbirds boys’ basketball team.
Faced with the daunting task of playing two high-scoring, state-ranked opponents to began SWAL play, the Redbirds rose to the challenge and flexed their defensive muscles en route to a pair of impressive victories.
If this is just week one in the SWAL, then the rest of the season should be a lot of fun.
The Redbirds (4–0 overall, 2–0 SWAL) opened up the week by going on the road to defeat #2-ranked Mineral Point, 63–53, on Tuesday, Dec. 4, and then the ‘Birds followed that up with a 50–44 victory at home over the #9-ranked Cubans on Friday, Dec. 7.
“It was a good week. This is good for our program to get off to a 2–0 start in the conference against two of the best teams, not just in our conference but in the state. It would have been really easy to come out of here 0–2,” said Darlington head coach Tom Uppena. “I’m proud of our guys for gutting it out. Those were two hard-earned wins.”
Sophomore Carter Lancaster and senior Stryker Fitzsimons carried a lot of the offensive and rebounding load for the Redbirds last week. Lancaster poured in a career-high 28 points and pulled down 13 boards in Tuesday’s win over the Pointers (2–2, 1–1), and then added 16 points and seven rebounds in Friday’s over the Cubans (2–1, 1–1); while Fitzsimons recorded a pair of double-doubles with 19 points and 11 boards on Tuesday night, and a game-high 18 points and 13 rebounds on Friday night along with two assists and two steals.
“When you can get big production out of your big guns, things are going to go in your favor,” stated Uppena. “Those were man performances.”
Mineral Point’s Isaac Lindsey and Brayden Dailey pumped in 15 points apiece in the first half to put the #2 Pointers ahead 36–32 going into the locker room at the break, however the Redbirds rallied in the second half by holding the duo to just two points over the final 18 minutes of play.
Darlington outscored the Pointers, 31–17, in the second half to turn a four-point deficit into a 10-point victory.
“I’m incredibly happy with our performance in this game and the effort we showed on the defensive end,” Uppena said. “I have to give credit to guys like Trae (Schilling), Carson (Evenstad) and Cayden (Rankin). They played some incredibly talented players and held their own on defense.”
Senior Matthew Douglas hit two 3-pointers to finish with six points in Tuesday’s game, while Evenstad and Rankin chipped in with four points apiece.
Darlington 63, Mineral Point 53
(from Tuesday, Dec. 4 @ Mineral Point)
Darlington……. 32 31 – 63
Mineral Point… 36 17 – 53
Darlington – Cayden Rankin 4, Bryce Stone 2, Carson Evenstad 4, Stryker Fitzsmons 19, Carter Lancaster 28, Matthew Douglas 6. Totals – 28 4-9 63.
Mineral Point – Berget 8, B. Dailey 17, M. Dailey 1, Lindsey 15, Watters 2, Wendhausen 1, Baehler 2, Stumpf 7. Totals – 20 6-12 53.