The Ashby boys basketball team had a chance to prove itself against one of the top Class A teams in the state on Tuesday night on the road, and the Arrows did just that.
Ashby is 9-3 now and has won five straight after beating Parkers Prairie 80-70. It might be the Arrows’ best win on paper all season with the Panthers now a 10-2 team and ranked ninth in the Class A Minnesota Basketball News polls.
“Confidence has never been a problem with these guys,” Ashby head coach John Holsten said. “They keep it quiet. They have a quiet confidence about them, but they’re good players. I think they play like that.”
Parkers Prairie led 34-29 at the half, but the Arrows put up 51 points over the final 18 minutes. Junior center Jaden Norby had 11 points, eight rebounds and five assists. Senior Noah Johnson added seven points, seven rebounds and six assists.
Ashby’s three starting sophomores were huge across the board, combining for 62 points. Hunter Norby and Torin Olson both had 21, while center Jacob Cook added 20 points, nine rebounds, five steals and four assists.
“They’re kind of fearless in the way they play,” Holsten said of his sophomores. “I don’t think I’ve ever experienced that before. I know I haven’t.”
The depth of Ashby overcame another standout performance by Panthers’ senior guard Alex Koep. He finished with a game-high 26 points after getting to the rim all night with 10 layups. Junior guard Micah Arens added 14 points and senior forward Josh Helling had 12.
Ashby put up big offensive numbers in the second half to secure the win, but Holsten was happy with where things started on the other end of the court that half.
“I think we played better defense,” he said. “Our defensive intensity went up, and I think that affected our offense as well. Then we shot well from three. We were 10-of-23.”
Olson knocked down five of those threes to lead the way.
The win means Ashby is the lone unbeaten team in the Little Eight Conference at 7-0. Parkers Prairie and Brandon-Evansville were both 4-1 in the LEC after Tuesday’s games.
It was also a big game in the Section 6A South. Parkers Prairie sits well in front of the Arrows in the QRF through Minnesota-scores.net as of the morning of Jan. 15. The Panthers are positioned as the second seed in the subsection right now behind West Central Area, while Ashby is fourth.
The South half of the section currently has six teams with winning records, and the North half has four, led by defending state champion, Henning (12-1). The Arrows will go to Henning on Friday night at 7:30.
“The section is loaded,” Holsten said. “It really is, with three of the top-10 teams in the state in it with Henning, West Central Area and Parkers Prairie.”
PARKERS PRAIRIE 34 36 - 70
ASHBY 29 51 - 80
ASHBY - Hunter Norby - 21 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal; Torin Olson - 21 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists; Jacob Cook - 20 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists, 5 steals; Ashton Ecker - 1 assist; Jaden Norby - 11 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists; Noah Johnson - 7 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists
PARKERS PRAIRIE SCORING - Alex Koep - 26; Arens - 14; Florian Koep - 6; R. Thoennes - 8; Josh Helling - 12; Preston Yahnke - 4