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Incredible comeback saves Somerset boys basketball at Baldwin-Woodville

Senior Zac Waalen (5) tries to deflect a pass as part of Somerset’s full-court press in last Tuesday’s game at Baldwin. 1 / 2
Somerset guard JT Karis (10) tries to drive along the baseline during last week's game at Baldwin.2 / 2

For three quarters last Tuesday, Baldwin-Woodville was clearly the superior boys basketball team against Somerset.

Fortunately for the Spartans, they still had eight minutes to make things right. They put together an incredible fourth quarter, outscoring the Blackhawks 35-19. That allowed the Spartans to pull ahead for a 67-61 victory.

The win kept Somerset in second place in the Middle Border Conference with a 7-1 record. The Spartans were scheduled to host Prescott on Tuesday in a showdown for the MBC lead.

Somerset’s comeback at Baldwin was fueled by full-court pressure. Somerset trailed 42-32 entering the fourth quarter and a minute into the quarter, B-W had upped the lead to 48-35. Somerset then caught fire, scoring 11 straight points. B-W hit a couple shots to temporarily stop the hemorrhaging, but the Spartans stayed on the attack. The Spartans tied the game for the first time at 52-52 when Heaven Hunt drained a three-pointer with 4:22 remaining. Gaelin Elmore and Jack Emmert then scored twice each and the Spartan lead was suddenly up to five points. The Blackhawks never got closer than three points after that.

The first quarter of this game ended 14-14. The second quarter became the Logan Weyer show. Weyer can score points in bunches. He did that in the second quarter, scoring 13 straight Blackhawk points, which accounted for the Blackhawks leading 32-22 at halftime.

Weyer finished with 28 points, but he’s not the Blackhawks’ only threat. Senior guard Gerad Gerrits was nearly unstoppable from the outside, scoring 23 points. That combination had the Spartan perimeter defenders scrambling to stop them.

Somerset needed someone to step up offensively after Elmore did nearly all the team's scoring in the first half. That someone was Hunt. Hunt scored 21 of his 23 of his points in the second half and Elmore finished with 21 points. Hunt, Elmore, Emmert, Zac Waalen and Zach Bahr played together nearly the entire fourth quarter for the Spartans.

“They really had a good thing going,” Somerset coach Brent Larson said about not going to his bench during the comeback. “Zach Bahr played some really good minutes.”

Larson said Baldwin-Woodville switched to a zone defense after the first quarter and it caused immense problems for the Spartans. The way to beat a zone is accurate outside shooting and Hunt provided that.

Through the first three quarters the Spartans had pressed sporadically, with little success. Larson said that once the team started rotating properly and being more active, the press became more effective.

The Spartans played at St. Croix Falls on Thursday and the game was almost the exact opposite timeline of Tuesday. This time, the Spartans had a big quarter right away, establishing a double-digit lead they maintained throughout the 65-56 win over the Saints.

Maybe the Saints heard that Somerset had struggled against a zone defense on Tuesday. The Saints tried a zone to start Thursday’s action and they regretted it quickly. The Spartans rolled up a 25-11 lead by the end of the first quarter.

“We did a much better job of attacking the zone,” Larson said.

Elmore and Emmert were working together like a well-oiled machine on Thursday. Elmore led the Spartans by scoring 24 points, hitting 9-14 shots from the field. Many of his scores were set up by Emmert, who led the Spartans with seven assists. Emmert also scored 12 points.

The main issue for the Spartans on Thursday was trying to corral Saint guard Lovro Kusec. Kusec is averaging 16.5 points per game, but he was able to score 26 points against the Spartans.

Freshman Noah Dendinger saw his most extensive varsity game time on Thursday. The Spartans are in desperate need of help in the post area and Dendinger is one of the tallest players on the Spartan roster.

“He played some good minutes,” Larson said. “He’s kind of a heady kid.”

The back-loaded portion of the Spartans’ schedule hits this week, with four games in six days. The Spartans end this week with a game at Durand on Thursday and a home game versus Osceola on Friday. The Spartans play at home on Monday against Barron, which is tied for the Heart O’North Conference lead. On Tuesday, the Spartans will play at New Richmond.

Dave Newman
Dave Newman has been the sports editor at the New Richmond News since 1988. He has covered the action in the Middle Border Conference, Dunn-St. Croix Conference and Big Rivers Conference for nearly 30 years.
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