By Jason Groth
The Nashwauk-Keewatin boys basketball team has been a streaky team this year as they sit 8-10 overall after Friday’s 69-62 defeat to Hill City at the Nashwauk-Keewatin High School Gymnasium.
The Spartans have had two, two game winning streaks and one three-game winning streak during the season. The Spartans also have had a five-game losing streak as well as two, two game losing streaks.
The Hornets had three players finish in double digits in earning the seven point victory. Marcus Wagner led all scorers with 19 points while Jordan Johnson added 14 points while Mason Watkins finished with 12 points as the Hornets had a lot of success from the outside and from the free-throw line late in the contest.
The Spartans had five players finish in double figures and tried to establish the paint for much of the contest while getting looks on the outside as well. John Labine and Kaleb Pelkey led the way for the Spartans with 12 points each.
Neither team could take control of the game’s opening half. Both teams had key players draw early fouls which sent them to the bench as Kevin Hale for Nashwauk-Keewatin picked up two quick fouls while Hill City’s Nathan Oukrop picked up two quick fouls as well.
The Hornets raced out to a 7-2 lead but the Spartans battled their way back to take the lead at 13-12 after a bucket from Jesse Nelson. The lead went back and forth and then a quick 7-0 run gave the Hornets a 26-19 lead after a three-pointer from Johnson.
A last second buzzer beater by Nelson cut the Hornet lead to four at the break at 35-31. The Spartans consistently went to the free throw line as they hit on 10 of 16 free throws while the Hornets only attempted five free throws in the first half.
The Spartans raced out to a 7-2 run to start the second half as Hale gave the Spartans the lead at 38-37. It would be the only time the Spartans would hold the lead in the second half. Johnson answered the bucket with a three-pointer of his own to give the Hornets the lead right back.
The Spartans battled throughout the second half but just couldn’t overcome the Hornets strong free throw shooting down the stretch as the Hornets pulled out the 69-62 victory.
Kix Martin finished with nine points for Hill City while Oukrop finished with seven points. Austin Dunham and Philip Niesen finished with three points each. Chris James added two points.
Alex Otterbein and Hale finished with 11 points each while Nelson added 10 in the contest. Marek Cobb finished with five points and Jeff Korpi added two points in the loss.