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Boys basketball: Improved Ashby team closes out B-E in the final minute

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Ashby sophomore Jaden Norby (23) boxes out Brandon-Evansville junior Sam Fuller during Tuesday night's game in Ashby. Norby had two free throws with less than two minutes left to give his team a lead it did not relinquish in a 51-46 win for the Arrows. (Eric Morken / Echo Press)2 / 7
Ashby head coach John Holsten talks with junior Noah Johnson before Johnson checks into the game on Tuesday night. (Eric Morken / Echo Press)3 / 7
Ashby senior Christian Norby gets fouled by Brandon-Evansville's Marshall Riedel on his way to the basket on Tuesday night. Norby had 14 points in helping the Arrows to the win. (Eric Morken / Echo Press)4 / 7
Brandon-Evansville senior Eli Anderson gets into the lane for two of his eight points on Tuesday night. (Eric Morken / Echo Press)5 / 7
Brandon-Evansville junior guard Marshall Riedel releases a three as Ashby's Jaden Norby closes out on him in the corner on Tuesday night. (Eric Morken / Echo Press)6 / 7
Ashby senior guard Scott Johnson gets into the lane against the defense of Sam Fuller on Tuesday night. Johnson had a game-high 22 points, and Fuller helped out his team with 12 points. (Eric Morken / Echo Press)7 / 7

Tuesday night’s boys basketball game in Ashby showed some of the parity in the South half of the Section 6A field this season.

It’s a subsection that is setting up to have at least five teams with winning records and maybe more if Brandon-Evansville can start turning close losses into wins down the stretch.

The Chargers (6-6) were right there against a now 7-3 Ashby team after leading by one with less than two minutes left. The Arrows made a few more plays there, though, as they closed the game on a 7-1 run to secure the 51-46 win.

“I think their composure was better than our’s the last two minutes,” B-E head coach Trent Hintermeister said. “We had a one-point lead with two minutes in the game left. We called a timeout, talked about what we wanted to do in the huddle and we came out and didn’t do it. That happened three times in the last two minutes. I’ll take blame for that because I think as a program and me as a coach, I need to work on more situational stuff in practice, so that’s stuff that we’ll work on.”

The Arrows led 24-22 at the half after Brandon-Evansville junior guard Keagan Schiele knocked down a deep three near the buzzer. Ashby responded out of the break with a quick 9-0 run, but the Chargers wouldn’t go away.

Brandon-Evansville took a 45-44 lead off a Sam Fuller basket in the lane. On the Arrows’ following possession, sophomore forward Jaden Norby got fouled and calmly drained two straight free throws that gave his team a lead it never relinquished.

“You just got to stay calm,” Norby said. “You shoot them in practice, we go through all that stuff in practice, so it all comes natural. (Head coach) John (Holsten) did a good job teaching us that.”

Holsten was coaching against his former team after manning the sidelines in B-E until after the 2017 season. He liked the way his guys closed things out at the free throw line down the stretch after struggling at the line through parts of this season.  

Scott Johnson followed Norby’s two makes by hitting 3-of-4 from the line in the final minute. Johnson also made a bucket off the glass that made it a three-point game as the senior guard scored five big points down the stretch to put the game away.

“I think because he’s been through it, he doesn’t get rattled,” Holsten said of Johnson. “He takes good shots and he knows how to play. His basketball IQ is pretty good, so we’re confident when he has the ball in his hands that he’s either going to make a play for himself or for a teammate.”

Johnson had a game-high 22 points, while fellow senior Christian Norby added 14 on a night when just five players scored for Ashby.

This nucleus for the Arrows played through a lot of close games last season and had just a 7-18 record to show for it. They have already matched that win total through 10 games as they used some of that experience to turn the tide this winter.

“The biggest difference is we all have great chemistry,” Christian Norby said. “We’ve all been playing for many years, all on the same team. We all know our strengths, and we try to put that together. We all trust each other, and that’s the biggest thing right there.”

The win helped the Arrows keep pace in a crowded 6A South field. Ortonville is at the top of the QRF rankings at 8-1, but Hancock (9-2), West Central Area (9-3), Parkers Prairie (7-3) and the Arrows all had three losses or less coming into Tuesday night.

Every win will be important come section seeding time, which is why Holsten has liked the way Ashby has closed out its last couple games. Before beating the Chargers, the Arrows beat Park Christian by two in overtime on Jan. 11.

“I think they’ve kept their wits for the most part,” Holsten said. “I like the fact that it shows they’re growing, and they’re thinking about it. They’re not saying, ‘Oh my goodness, we’re in a tough one again.’ They’re thinking about it and they’re making plays down the stretch.”

That’s the next step the Chargers are looking to take. Brandon-Evansville has lost four of its last five games, including single-digit outcomes to Ortonville, Hancock and now Ashby.

“We feel like we can beat anybody in our section, but if you look at it now, we can lose to anybody in our section too,” Hintermeister said. “We’ve played a lot of close games this year. We just need to get to the point of winning them.”

Holsten praised the way the Chargers fought to get back in the game.

“They got almost every offensive rebound there was to be had in the last five minutes,” he said. “We were fortunate to come out with a win.”

Sam Fuller had a lot to do with that. He willed his way to a number of offensive boards in the second half that led to some big putbacks. Fuller and Schiele both finished with 12 points.

“The last three games, Sam Fuller has played his role. The first (nine) games of the season, he did not. That’s the difference with Sam Fuller right now, and I’m very happy for him because he’s put a lot of time into this.”

Hintermeister’s message to his team is that there is plenty of season left in a section he believes has a lot of teams that can win it. That should make for some exciting basketball down the stretch as the entire section sorts itself out over the final couple months.        

ASHBY     24 27 - 51

B-E           22 24 - 46

B-E TOTALS - FG - 17-54; Three-point FG - 3-20; FT - 9-13; Assists - 5; Rebounds - 31; Turnovers - 9; Steals - 7

Dakota Ecker - 5 points, 1 rebound, 2 assists, 1 steal; Christian Norby - 14 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal; Scott Johnson - 22 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal; Hunter Norby - 4 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal; Jaden Norby - 8 points, 8 rebounds, 2 steals; Noah Johnson - 2 points, 1 rebound, 1 assist

B-E - Titus Fuller - 6 points, 1 assist, 3 rebounds; Marshall Riedel - 2 points, 5 rebounds, 1 steal; Keagan Schiele - 12 points, 1 assist, 6 rebounds, 3 steals; Eli Anderson - 8 points, 2 rebounds; Tanner Bitzan - 6 points, 2 assists, 7 rebounds, 2 steals; Sam Fuller - 12 points, 4 rebounds, 1 steal; Jesse Perleberg - 2 rebounds

Eric Morken

Eric Morken is the sports and outdoor editor at the Echo Press and Osakis Review newspapers in Douglas County, MN. Follow him on Twitter at echo_sports.

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