Four different Superior players scored in double figures to lift the Spartans to a 71-61 home win over Chippewa Falls in both teams’ season opener Tuesday.
Superior seniors Tanner Swanson and Jacob Kidd each scored 16 points to lead the team in scoring, but Shane Leask’s four 3-pointers in the second half was the difference for coach Kory Deadrick in his first game as the Spartans’ head coach.
“They were playing for a new coach and he had them ready to go,” Cardinals’ coach Jason Proue said. “They shot the ball well and when you’re shooting the ball well it’s contagious. All credit to them, they shot the ball unbelievably.”
Swanson scored 13 of his points in the first half and helped Superior open up an eight point lead, about 10 minutes into the game. Chippewa Falls rallied, outscoring the Spartans 10-3 to close the half tied at 32.
In the second half, Swanson, Leask and Robert Olson all hit shots from long range early in the half and then a 10-0 run punctuated by several Cardinal turnovers allowed Superior to open up a 53-40 lead.
Proue tried pressing to force some Spartan mistakes and make up the deficit, but each time Chippewa Falls would make a run and cut into the lead, Leask hit a timely 3-pointer or Kidd would take the ball coast-to-coast for a layup.
“I feel like with my speed and ability, I was about to push the ball up and get around guys,” Kidd said. “I feel like the start of the year, they were looking more toward some of the top three guys from last year and they were not focusing on me, so I was able to drive around guys pretty easily.”
The Cardinals never got closer than eight points over the final 10 minutes of the game and Superior’s timely shooting prevented any comeback attempt.
Deadrick had hoped the Spartans could extend the lead over the final few minutes, but was happy with his team’s performance and they will learn to close teams out over the course of the season.
“Finding a way to finish games comes from experience,” Deadrick said. “It’s tough in practice to replicate the energy that they were playing with when they were down in the last five minutes. We struggled with that, but luckily came out in the second half and built a little cushion, had some timeouts to burn and we found a way to hang on and win, which is good.”
‘A balanced attack’
Superior has 10 seniors on the team this season and more importantly, they showed balance in the game against Chippewa Falls with four players in double figures and another — Evan Bennett — with eight.
“When you have a balanced attack, when you have three, four or five guys every night that can get double figures, it’s tough to guard,” Deadrick said. “Typically, there’s a weakness on their defense. If their guys have to guard guys that consistently score double figures, it puts them in a tough spot.”
The win was also big for the Superior for a number of reasons. Last season, Chippewa Falls blew out the Spartans 81-51 in the teams’ only meeting. With the Minnesota schools not factoring into seeding for the Wisconsin playoffs, picking up wins over in-state opponents is doubly important.
“When we play these big Wisconsin schools like Chippewa Falls tonight, Hudson next Tuesday and Holmen the following Friday, those are three pretty good Wisconsin schools that have good basketball reputations,” Deadrick said. “The kids know the stakes, they know it’s a must win if we want to have a chance to host a playoff game and make a little run come playoff time.”
Superior (1-0) is scheduled to host Hudson at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 30.
Chippewa Falls 32-29—61
Chippewa Falls — Mason Monarski 29, Jackson Tomczak 11, Christian Crumbaker 10, Keion Twyman 3, Jackson Gugel 2, Kansas Smith 5. Totals 24 3-6 61.
3-point goals — Monasrski 5, Tomczak 3, Crumbaker,
Superior — Tanner Swanson 16, Jake Kidd 16, Robert Olson 12, Evan Bennett 8, Shane Leask 14, Daynen Lull 2, Tresean Sanigar 3. Totals 26 10-16 71.
3-point goals — Swanson 3, Olson, Leask 4.Sanigar.