Boys' basketball: Cardinals recover to defeat Lancers; EPC forces 18 turnovers in season opener
When the Spring Valley boys' basketball team trailed the Eau Claire Immanuel Lancers 13-6 early in their season-opening game, the Cardinals relied on chemistry to pull themselves out of their early rut.
"I don't think anyone panicked," Cardinals' head coach Rob Bosshart said. "I don't think anyone started pointing fingers or feeling like they had to start doing things on their own."
The Cardinals (1-0) claimed a 52-42 win against the Lancers (1-2) on Tuesday, Nov. 27, and got over their first-game mishaps as the game progressed.
Spring Valley struggled to defend the Lancers' Noah Sydow who scored most of his 13 points at the low post when the Cardinals' helpside defense was slow to show on defensive rotations.
"One of the things we talked about at halftime was getting better helpside," Bosshart said. "We changed the person we were actually going to get help from to get a little bit better angle on it."
The Cardinals led 23-21 at the half, but went on a 6-0 run to start the second half after Trevor Stangl got the defense going by forcing a turnover in the Lancers' first possession of the half.
"I think that helped wake us up a little bit defensively," Bosshart said. "We still had some breakdowns in the second half, but we did a much better job in the second half of just anticipating and we were more aggressive."
Junior co-captain Aaron Borgerding also noticed his team's improved defense in the second half. "I just liked how we came out in the second half and battled on the defensive end," Borgerding said. "The first half we gave them way too many opportunities, but we got our helpside down and played a lot better."
Senior co-captain credited his team's 29-point second half to the team's added aggression on the defensive end. "When we're playing well defensively, everyone picks it up on both sides of the court," Bosshart said.
Borgerding (16 points) and Bosshart (19 points) combined for 35 of their team's 52 points, but were impressed with the play of their teammates who came off the bench to support the team.
"I thought our bench players came out and played really well, especially in the second half," Borgerding said. "They were able to finish fastbreak layups, and now they're going to build on that confidence."
The Cardinals returned five players who played on the varsity team last season, and coach Bosshart knows there will be some hiccups as his remaining players adjust to the varsity level, but he was pleased with what he saw from them as the game progressed on Tuesday night.
"I thought they played better as the game went on," coach Bosshart said. "They looked more comfortable during their second and third rotations, and I think we took a step in the right direction for developing our depth."
The Lancers closed the gap to 40-38 at the five minutes, three seconds mark of the second half, but the Cardinals were able to widen the gap once again once they got the ball moving against Eau Claire Immanuel's 1-3-1 zone. Ball-movement and passing were other aspects of his team's game that coach Bosshart felt improved in the final minutes of the non-conference matchup.
"I thought they did a good job in the second half of taking away some of our passing angles that we found in the first half, but when we got ball-movement and had players moving, I was really happy with the looks we got."
The Cardinals found 16 open looks from behind the three-point arc, but were only able to connect on two three-point attempts.
"We created a lot of open shots and we didn't make as many as we would have like to," Borgerding said, "but we'll knock those down later in the season."
The Cardinals' next chance to improve their outside shooting will come on Thursday, Nov. 29, when they travel to Clear Lake to take on the Warriors who Bosshart predicts will run a similar 1-3-1 zone defense to the one his team saw on Tuesday night. The Warriors defeated Unity 76-46 on Tuesday night, and are coming off of 25-1 2017-18 season that ended at the WIAA State Tournament.
"We know it's going to be a good challenge for us," coach Bosshart said, "but it'll help having a game under our belt."
Spring Valley scoring: Bosshart 19; Borgerding 16; Stangl 5; Lance McMurrin, Mike Bauer 4; Cade Hannack, Josh Hannack 2.
Elmwood/Plum City 48, Clayton 32
The Elmwood/Plum City Wolves also captured their first win of the season on Tuesday night by forcing 18 turnovers made by their hosts.
EPC (1-0) senior Tyler Maxwell recorded six of his team's 12 steals against the Bears (0-1) and added 14 points to his stat line. Maxwell and teammate Zack Phillips both led the Wolves with three assists apiece.
Senior Noah Gansluckner added eight points to his team's 48, and led EPC on the boards by grabbing seven rebounds.
The Wolves shot 34.6 percent from the field and connected on six of their 21 three-point attempts. Phillips scored all of his nine points from behind the three-point arc.
The Wolves will continue their season with another non-conference game on Thursday, Nov. 29, when they travel to Gilmanton (1-0).
EPC scoring: Maxwell 14; Phillips 9; Gansluckner, Nic Forster 8; Luke Webb 5; Jordan Brunner 4.