Photo by Mark Beasley

January 6 @ Albany

Albany 64 Minnewaska 63

The Minnewaska boys’ basketball team was on the road Monday night for a game with former WCC member Albany. Both teams entered the game with 6-2 records.

The Huskies did very little wrong in the first half, making a very high percentage of their shots and getting offensive rebounds on most of their misses. The Minnewaska offense looked to be stuck in neutral as Albany quickly piled up a 13 point lead after just six minutes of play.

The Albany lead was at 17 with just over five minutes to play as the Huskies doubled up on the Lakers, 34-17.

Minnewaska was able to cut into the Albany lead by halftime, trailing 39-27 at intermission.

Peyton Johnsrud was the lone bright spot for the Lakers’ offense, scoring 15 points in the first half.

After trading baskets to begin the second half, Minnewaska went on a 13-0 run that resulted in just their second lead of the game at 42-41. Peyton Johnsrud made a steal and went the length of the court for a layup to put the Lakers in the lead.

The two teams swapped the lead back and forth over the remaining 12 minutes of game time. Minnewaska was never able to get more than a one-point lead while the Huskies led by as many as four points over the final minutes.

Grant Jensen hit a basket with 4:55 to play to knot the game at 55, but Albany scored the next four points and led, 59-55, with under three minutes to play. 

A free throw by Grant Jensen made the score 59-56 as time wound down. 

Minnewaska had the ball with six seconds remaining, down by three. Sam Hested worked his way to the 3-point line, took a pass and let his shot fly. The ball snapped the twine as the buzzer sounded and the Lakers had tied the game at 59 after regulation play.

Hested hit a long 2-point shot on the first possession in overtime to give the Lakers the lead. On the next trip down the floor Grant Jensen hit a slashing left-handed layup to give Minnewaska its biggest lead of the game at four points, 63-59.

Albany responded with a basket and a made free throw, then another basket to retake the lead, 64-63.

The Lakers again found themselves with the ball as time was winding down. Minnewaska had 12 seconds to shoot and worked for a good shot. After a series of passes the ball found it’s way to Petyon Johnsrud, open in the same spot that Sam Hested had scored from at the end of regulation. Johnsrud, who had 29 points that included four 3-point shots, had this shot slightly off the mark. Albany grabbed the rebound and the game was over.

It was a hard loss, as any loss is, but the fact that the Lakers had overcome a 17-point deficit on the road against a very good team was a measure of consolation.

Peyton Johnsrud’s 29 points were supplemented by 15 points from Grant Jensen. 

January 9 @ Sauk Centre

Minnewaska 70 Sauk Centre 50

The Lakers were in Sauk Centre on Thursday night to take on the Mainstreeters. Minnewaska was looking to end a two-game losing streak while Sauk Centre was looking to find a new identity after losing their seven-foot center to a knee injury in their previous game.

Without a seven-footer in the lineup the Lakers were able to swarm the boards and pull down offensive rebounds, almost at will.

Sam Hested got the Lakers off to a good start, scoring 10 of Minnewaska’s first 14 points. Peyton Johnsrud ‘s eighth point of the game gave the Lakers their first 10-point lead at 18-8.

Sauk Centre was struggling to make shots, mostly 3-point attempts, while the Lakers were winning the battle on the boards at both ends of the floor and steadily pulling away. 

Aaron Ver Steeg and Brady Hoffmann scored the final two baskets of the first half to put the final touches on a 35-15 Minnewaska lead. Peyton Johnsrud led the Lakers in scoring with 12 points at the half with Sam Hested contributing 10.

A 3-pointer by Hested gave the Lakers their biggest lead of the game, 24 points, at 46-22, with 14:30 to play. Soon after that the Sauk Centre shooters began to find the range, hitting five 3-pointers in a 10 minute span and narrowing the Minnewaska lead to just 11 points with five minutes to play. 

Grant Jensen scored five straight points on an old fashioned 3-point play and another basket to bump the lead back to 16 with just under three minutes to play. A basket by Luke Barkeim and two free throws by Mason Stewart put the lead back at 20 with two minutes to play and the Sauk Centre rally had been quelled.

Four players reached double digits for the Lakers, led by Sam Hested’s 16 points. Grant Jensen and Peyton Johnsrud hit for 12 points and Aaron Ver Steeg added 10 for the Lakers, who shot 50% from the field for the game.

Rebounding was a key in Minnewaska’s dominance as the Lakers pulled down 35 rebounds, 16 of them offensive.

January 10 @ Minnewaska

Minnewaska 66 NL-S 60

The Minnewaska boys ended a busy week with their lone home game, taking on New London-Spicer on Friday night. The Wildcats entered the game having lost eight of their previous nine games.

Minnewaska’s Peyton Johnsrud scored the game’s first basket, but after that the Wildcats pulled away while the Minnewaska offense struggled with turnovers in the early stages of the game. 

The Lakers were getting through the NL-S defense and to the rim, but too often failed to convert. To top off the sluggish first for Minnewaska, the Wildcats nailed a 3-pointer at the buzzer, ending the first half with a 30-18 lead. 

A different Minnewaska boys’ basketball team came out for the second half. Intense, focused, putting on a full-court pressing defense, the Lakers made immediate headway on the Wildcats’ lead.

After 3 1/2 minutes of play the Lakers had the NL-S lead down to five, 32-27. But a 3-pointer by the Wildcats, followed by a Minnewaska turnover and another basket for the Wildcats, erased much of the hard work the Lakers had done. Would Minnewaska be able to dig back in despite the NL-S lead getting back to 10 points?

The answer was a resounding “yes”, as the Lakers went on a 13-0 run over the next four minutes to take a three point lead, 40-37.

Minnewaska would inch ahead, only to have the Wildcats land a 3-point bomb to tie the game at 42 and 48. While NL-S was draining 3-pointers the Lakers hadn’t made a single one until Peyton Johnsrud took a pass in the corner and nailed a 3-pointer with 4 1/2 minutes remaining in the game. And more importantly, it gave the Lakers a five point lead, 53-48. 

The Minnewaska offense was clicking now, as four players, Grant Jensen, Peyton Johnsrud, Sam Hested and Aaron Ver Steeg took turns slashing to the basket for points.

The lead reached 11 after back-to-back baskets by Ver Steeg, putting Minnewaska up, 61-50, with 1:25 left to play. 

The Wildcats kept things interesting by making a couple more 3-pointers in the final minute, bringing their total to 10 bombs for the game, but when the final horn sounded the Lakers led, 66-60. They had overcome a 12 point halftime deficit and ended the week on a good note.

Only four Lakers scored points, led by Petyon Johnsrud with 20 and Sam Hested with 19. Aaron Ver Steeg and Grant Jensen ended with 14 and 13 respectively despite each only having two points at halftime.

The win gave the Lakers a two-game winning streak and left them at 8-3 on the season, 4-2 in WCC play, good for second place behind undefeated BOLD.

No bus trips for the Lakers in the upcoming week as they play a pair of home games on Thursday and Friday. Paynesville is up first, followed by ACGC.