SOUTH WAYNE – Darlington remained red-hot on the hardwood by cooling off Black Hawk, 70-38, in a fast-paced non-conference boys’ basketball game at Black Hawk High School on Saturday, Jan. 14.
The #2-ranked Redbirds rolled to their 12th straight victory after putting a halt to the Warriors’ nine-game winning streak. The Warriors had not lost a game since their season opener, but they could not keep pace with the Redbirds, who have won each game this season by an average of 33 points.
“It feels great to be unbeaten so far. We have played some really good teams up to this point, so to be able to stay unblemished means we are playing some good basketball,” said Darlington head coach Tom Uppena. “We still have some things to improve on as a team and I have some things to improve on as a coach. We have some great teams coming up in our schedule, so hopefully we will be ready for those challenges.”
The Redbirds raced out to a 34-21 halftime lead behind the scoring of senior guards Will Schwartz (11 points), Ryan Glendenning (eight) and Trevor Johnson (eight). Black Hawk countered with eight points from junior guard CJ Leuzinger and seven from senior center Josh Meier to keep things relatively close at the break.
“They are good and when you can’t score or get stops it will snowball against those guys. They were physical and made it tough on us,” noted Black Hawk head coach Charlie Anderson. “We have to correct those mistakes and build on those positives because we have a tough schedule coming up.”
In the second half, the ‘Birds continued to pour it on the offense with another 36 points, while using a strong defensive effort to hold the hosts to just 17 points as they ran away with the victory.
“Black Hawk is a very good team that has been playing very well and has gotten some good wins as of late. Coach (Brad) Solberg did the scouting report for Black Hawk, so the credit goes to him and our scout team for getting us as prepared as we were. I thought in the second half our defense was even better than the first, and that allowed us to extend the lead. Coach (Riley) Fitzsimons had an adjustment against their zone defense that helped us to get some good looks as well. It was a great team effort and a great team win,” explained Uppena.
Schwartz finished with a game-high 21 points, while Glendenning added 13 and T. Johnson tallied 10 for the ‘Birds. Senior forward Josh Soper scored eight points on the day.
Junior Jett Rufenacht came off the bench in the second half for all nine of his points to lead Black Hawk. Junior guard Michael Flanagan matched Leuzinger with eight points, and Meier finished with seven after being shutout in the second half.
Sophomore forward Conner Meyer, the Warriors’ leading scorer this season, was held to just two points by the ‘Birds.
Darlington secured the top spot in the SWAL by taking down defending champion Iowa-Grant, 77-34, at DHS on Thursday, Jan. 12.
The Redbirds (6-0 SWAL) used a 10-0 scoring run in the first half to open up a 14-7 lead on the Panthers (4-6, 3-3), who had won the previous two games between the teams.
The lead swelled to as many as 19 before I-G ended the half on a 12-2 run to close the gap back to single digits. Chad Thomas scored seven points in a row at one point to pull the Panthers within 35-26 at the intermission.
“I have to give a lot of credit to Iowa-Grant first and foremost. They lost a lot of key players from their conference championship team last year, but that didn’t slow them down in the first half. Despite us having a lead at halftime, they certainly outplayed us to that point,” admitted Coach Uppena.
“I was happy with how our kids responded in the second half though and we were able to extend the lead. I think the keys for us turning it around were attacking the zone with more aggressiveness and upping the intensity on defense. We got back to doing the things we do well and it made the difference in the second half.”
The ‘Birds bolted out of the gates scoring the first 18 points of the second half to extend their lead to 53-26, and they continued to outscore the Panthers 24-8 the rest of the way to run away with the victory.
Schwartz scored 12 of his game-high 17 points in the first half, while Glendenning poured in nine of his 16 points in the second half for the Redbirds.
Senior Hunter Johnson dropped in 10 points, T. Johnson added nine points and sophomore Stryker Fitzsimons netted eight points for the ‘Birds.
Darlington begins the second half of the SWAL season by heading to Cuba City on Friday, Jan. 20. Then, on Monday, Jan. 23, the Redbirds have a tough non-conference game at Barneveld. The Golden Eagles are currently unbeaten and ranked #1 in Division 5.
Black Hawk stayed in the hunt in the Six Rivers East by defeating Argyle, 59-42, in a conference clash at AHS on Thursday evening.
The Orioles (2-9, 0-5) took a 22-21 lead into the halftime break, but the Warriors came out and outscored the hosts 38-20 in the second half to rally for their ninth straight victory.
“In the first half against Argyle, we had a tough time shooting and you have to credit Argyle for that. The second half we hit some shots which allowed us to set up our press,” commented Coach Anderson. “Josh Meier had a great game and we really needed him to score for us.”
Meier knocked down 11 field goals en route to a game-high 23 points for the Warriors. Meyer contributed 10 points and Leuzinger provided nine in the victory.
Brent Ritschard scored 11 points, Collin Argue netted 10 and Mitch Dammen chipped in with nine to lead Argyle.
Black Hawk opens the second half of the Six Rivers East season by hosting Pecatonica on Friday, Jan. 20. The Warriors also have a non-conference game at Clinton on Monday, Jan. 23.
Darlington………….. 34 36 – 70
Black Hawk………… 21 17 – 38
Darlington – Hunter Johnson 3, Will Schwartz 21, Tanner Evenstad 2, Ryan Glendenning 12, Mason Stone 2, Hayden Hardyman 3, Josh Soper 8, Trevor Johnson 10, Stryker Fiztsimons 4, Tony Ruesga 5. Totals – 29 5-7 70.
Black Hawk – Jason Treuthardt 2, Kyle Lovelace 2, Jett Rufenacht 9, Josh Meier 7, Michael Flanagan 8, Conner Meyer 2, C.J. Leuzinger 8. Totals – 15 5-9 38.
3-point goals– D 7 (Johnson 1, Schwartz 3, Gledenning 1, Hardyman 1, Ruesga 1), BH 3 (Rufenacht 1, Leuzinger 2). Total fouls– D 12, BH 5. Fouled out– none.
Iowa-Grant…………. 26 8 – 34
Darlington………….. 35 42 – 77
Iowa-Grant – Vigen 3, Simon 2, Hunt 2, Hill 6, Thomas 14, Winders 2, Richards 5. Totals – 12 6-13 34.
Darlington – Hunter Johnson 10, Will Schwartz 17, Brayden McDonald 3, Ryan Glendenning 16, Hayden Hardyman 3, Josh Soper 6, Trevor Johnson 9, Stryker Fiztsimons 8, Tony Ruesga 3, Brogan Evenstad 2. Totals – 32 7-9 77.
3-point goals– IG 4 (Vigen 1, Hill 1, Thomas 1, Richards 1), D 6 (Schwartz 1, McDonald 1, Glendenning 2, Hardyman 1, Ruesga 1). Total fouls– IG 8, D 18. Fouled out– none.
Black Hawk………… 21 38 – 59
Argyle……………….. 22 20 – 42
Black Hawk – Colby Argall 2, Jason Treuthardt 7, Jett Rufenacht 6, Josh Meier 23, Michael Flanagan 2, Conner Meyer 10, C.J. Leuzinger 9. Totals – 26 4-7 59.
Argyle – Argue 10, Ritschard 11, Stietz 1, Dammen 9, Amorose 2, H. Flannery 3, Johnson 5, Carter 1. Totals – 15 9-14 42.
3-point goals– BH 3 (Treuthardt 1, Meyer 1, Leuzinger 1), A 3 (Dammen 1, H. Flannery 1, Johnson 1). Total fouls– BH 14, A 11. Fouled out– none.