Prep boys basketball: Duluth East takes out Central
After three weeks on the road, playing in Duluth was a welcome relief for the East boys basketball team. The fact that Friday night's game was at Duluth Central High School against an opponent that ended their season a year ago and against a coac...
After three weeks on the road, playing in Duluth was a welcome relief for the East boys basketball team.
The fact that Friday night's game was at Duluth Central High School against an opponent that ended their season a year ago and against a coach who sat on their bench for the past six years didn't matter much to the Greyhounds.
East scored the final10 points to down Central78-69, ending a four-gamelosing streak against one of the state's toughest schedules.
"It's been a tough haul," East coach Chuck Tolo said. "It's not like we're going somewhere and playing weak teams. We played four teams in the top 10, two in the top five. But that's OK, our kids are learning and staying upbeat."
Sophomore guard Dyami Starks scored 35 points, but had only one during the decisive 10-0 run. Keaton Hasan scored four points, Carl Bowman had three and Anders Ryden made his only basket as East (3-7) pulled away.
"Our kids are starting to grow up, starting to mature a little bit. At the end of the game, we had a lot of adversity," Tolo said. "We make some young mistakes, but near the end we played very mature. We played virtually errorless in the last minute and a half."
East, behind Starks'22 points, led by as many as11 in the first half. Starks, who leads the Northland with a 24.9-point-per-game average, was tough to stop in the opening 18 minutes.
"It's so hard to guard him because he pulls up and shoots the ball so well," said first-year Trojans coach Dave LeGarde, who was an assistant at East for the previous six years. "He uses his body so well. He's improved a lot since last year."
Central (4-5) fought back to take its first lead at 48-46 on a Montclair Chapman steal and layup with 12:53 to play. East built an eight-point lead at the 6:45 mark before Starks was called for a personal foul on a basket by Henry Harden and then flagged with a technical foul for an altercation with Chapman.
"Dyami doesn't get emotional, but we got to him for the first time that I've ever seen," said Central seniorcenter Garth Heikkinen, who scored 20 of his team-high 33 points in the first half. "We were able to key off that, and it helped us get back into the game."
The Trojans went on a 10-0 run in the next 1:05 and took the lead back on a Mike Kerr three-point play.
"That wasn't a good play," Tolo said of the technical. "In this rivalry, that might happen once in a while. I don't condone it, nobody does, but you have to play through it. Our kids did a good job of doing exactly what we wanted them to do."
Starks quickly realized the error in judgment, which gave him four personal fouls.
"I felt very bad. The [technical] is not who I am," he said. "When it's a very competitive game like that, some words are being said and some actions are being done. Our emotions got the best of us. After the technical, I was thinking, 'I have to do something on the court.'"
But it was his teammates who made crucial plays in the late going. Hasan scored six points in the final minutes, including the game-winning basket in the lane to give East a 71-69 lead and avenge, in a lesser way, its nine-point loss to Central in last year's Section 7AAA final.
"It was a shock of disappointment," Heikkinen said. "This was the best we've played all season, just a few things didn't go away and that resulted in a loss."
The teams meet again Feb. 6 at East, ending a stretch of eight home games in a nine-game period for the Greyhounds. That's unless one counts Friday's game as well because the Greyhounds were glad to be back in their hometown.
Duluth East 38-40 -- 78
Duluth Central 35-34 -- 69
Duluth East -- Matt Florestano 14, Keaton Hasan 13, Dyami Starks 35, Ian Nelson 2, Carl Bowman 12, Anders Ryden 2. Totals 32 13-20 78.
3-point goals -- Hasan, Starks, Florestano.
Duluth Central -- Montclair Chapman 4, Garth Heikkinen 33, Harden Henry 10, Jason Michalicek 4, Mike Kerr 8, Braden Nord 8, Matt Roberts 2. Totals 25 14-22 69.
3-point goals -- Nord 2, Henry 2, Kerr.