BENTON – Shullsburg had their work cut out for them if they were to defend their title at the Mike Alexander Boys’ Basketball Holiday Classic. Lucky for the Miners, they have nothing against hard work.
First, the Miners avenged their lone loss of the season by rallying from behind in the second-half to knock off Southwestern, 57-51, in the semifinal round on Tuesday, Dec. 29, and then the Miners got the best of Scales Mound for the second time this season by defeating the Hornets, 55-52, in the championship game on Wednesday, Dec. 30.
“I’m really proud of the guys for the way they battled. Both teams we played were quality teams. They both have a ton of senior leadership and you could tell because they didn’t get frazzled by much,” said Shullsburg head coach Mark Lierman. “We played Scales Mound the first game of the season (a 59-53 win on Dec. 1) and we played Southwestern in the fourth game (a 65-50 loss on Dec. 14), so there was a lot of familiarity, which makes for some very good ball games. It also makes it tougher. I thought we played pretty well.”
Junior guard Hunter Matye scored a game-high 24 points in Tuesday’s win over Southwestern, and he added a team-high 17 points against the Hornets on Wednesday.
Junior center Joey Meyer added 13 points in Tuesday’s win and 15 points in Wednesday’s win, while guard Noah Wand chipped in with 15 points against the Wildcats and junior forward Lance Lierman netted 14 points against the Hornets.
The Miners (6-1 overall) trailed the Wildcats, 36-31, heading into the locker room at halftime in Tuesday’s semifinal game, but they rallied to outscore the ‘Cats, 26-15, in the second half to earn a 57-51 come-from-behind decision.
Wand nailed five 3-pointers for the Miners, while Matye sank four treys in the victory.
Garrett Jochum led the Wildcats with 18 points, while Kurt Tranel scored 10.
Matye continued to have the hot-hand for the Miners in the championship game, nailing four early 3-pointers on his way to 14 first-half points to lead Shullsburg out to a 28-23 halftime lead.
Matye hit back-to-back 3s to put the Miners up 8-3 and he added two more to extend the lead to 15-7 midway through the opening half.
The Hornets rallied to take a brief 23-21 lead, but a trey by Wand put the Miners back on top and break-away slam dunk by Matye on a late steal put the Miners up by five at the break.
Shullsburg alum Erik Kudronowicz’s Hornets scored the first five points of the second half to forge a 28 all tie. Shullsburg answered back with a 6-0 run to go up 34-28 and they never gave up the lead again.
Lierman scored seven of his 12 second-half points during a 10-2 spurt, which put the Miners ahead 45-36 midway through the second half.
The Hornets got as close as 50-47 on a 3-pointer by Kyle Wienen with 3:49 to play, but a pair of baskets by Meyer pushed the lead out to 54-47 with under a minute remaining.
A 3-pointer by Zach Stadel at the buzzer made the final score 55-52.
“I thought we were in pretty good defensive position a lot of times and they still hit some big shots. Give them credit, but also give our guys credit for continuing to battle,” added Coach Lierman.
“It was kind of a tale of two halves. We were pretty perimeter orientated in the first half when Hunter was on fire. They made changes at halftime and we went inside in the second half. Lance did a good job of sealing down low and finishing at the basket. We did a nice job adjusting at halftime. Give the guys credit for getting good looks.”
Harrison Jakel finished with a game-high 23 points to lead the Hornets, who defeated Benton, 45-38, in the semifinal round on Tuesday evening. Southwestern defeated Benton, 68-41, in the consolation game on Wednesday.
Wienen and Jalen Phillips added nine points apiece for Scales Mound.
“We starting to find our identity I think,” stated Lierman. “I feel really good for the guys. I hope they understand we have a lot of work left to do. There are little things we’re starting to do better. Sometimes our athleticism makes up for the little things. We need to take our athleticism and make things a little cleaner, and we’ll be alright.”
Shullsburg has a Six Rivers West game at Highland on Friday, Jan. 8, starting at 7:30 p.m.
2015 MIKE ALEXANDER CLASSIC
Scales Mound… 23 29 – 52
Shullsburg…….. 28 27 – 55
Scales Mound – Hall 2, Korte 4, Stadel 5, Phillips 9, Wienen 9, Jakel 23. Totals – 21 3-5 52.
Shullsburg – Lance Lierman 14, Hunter Matye 17, Noah Wand 8, Joey Meyer 15, Cameron Doyle 1. Totals – 22 5-16 55.
3-point goals– SM 7 (Stadel 1, Phillips 1, Wienen 3, Jakel 2), SH 6 (Matye 4, N. Wand 2). Total fouls– SM 16, SH 10. Fouled Out– SM: Jakel.
Southwestern… 36 15 – 51
Shullsburg……. 31 26 – 57
Southwestern – Jochum 18, Vaassen 8, Ky. Tranel 8, Rieken 7, Ku. Tranel 10. Totals – 20 2-5 51.
Shullsburg – Lance Lierman 2, Hunter Matye 25, Noah Wand 15, Nathan Wedige 2, Joey Meyer 13. Totals – 22 4-10 57.
3-point goals– SW 9 (Jochum 5, Vaassen 2, Rieken 1, Ku. Tranel 1), SH 9 (Matye 4, Wand 5). Total fouls– SW 13, SH 11.