—by Todd Thorson

The Roland-Story boys split their two games last week, holding of a stingy Saydel group last Tuesday (Dec. 10) before falling to the strong PCM Mustangs on Friday night (Dec. 13). Both games were held in Story City. The Norsemen are now 3-2 overall and 3-1 in the conference.

R-S 69, Saydel 63

I a back and forth contest that was never more than a six point lead for either team, the Norsemen boys made their free throws down the stretch to slip past Saydel 69-63. It was a streaky game, but an exciting one.

With the score tied at 61 with just under a minute to play, Zach Hovick naileda three pointer to put the Norse up 64-61 with 30 seconds left. Ben Clark then hit 3 of 4 free throws and Alex Urbanek hit two as well, as the Norsemen eventually won by six. Hovick ended up scoring 10 points in the fourth quarter alone, on his way to a 23 point night.

"We had a lot of guys step up in the second half," said Coach Darrin Berggren, "and we did a great job of keeping our composure down the stretch."

Berggren also praised the play of his guards, namely Ben Clark, Alex Urbanek, Zach Hovick, John Barclay and Tyler Hovick, who all did an exceptional defensive job on Saydel’s two leading scorers. They ended up holding their scorers to well below their averages.

"It was definitely a game of runs," added Berggren, "and was a very fun game to watch. It was great to see our guys step up time and time again, and answer every one of Saydel’s runs that they made."

Roland-Story held a 17-16 advantage at the quarter break, and made it a three point lead by halftime, 32-29. But Saydel came back to take a 47-45 lead into the final quarter, outscoring the Norse 18-13 in the third period. Key free throws in the fourth quarter enabled the Norsemen to take the lead and post the nine point victory.

Coming in behind Hovick’s 23 points was Ben Clark with 18. Alex Urbanek and Adam Shorkey each scored eight points. Sam Miller posted seven points. And Tyler Hovick added five points. The Norse out-rebounded Saydel 25-21, with Shorkey hauling six boards and Zach Hovick grabbing five. Clark and Nick Ahrens each took down four rebounds. R-S shot well from the floor, hitting 23 of 40 shots for 58 percent. Saydel was 24 of 50 from the field for 48 percent. There was an eight point differential at the free throw line, as the Norse hit 17 of 21, while Saydel was perfect from the line, but only had nine attempts.

PCM 58, R-S 49

Roland-Story and PCM hooked up in a battle of the last wo undefeated teams in the HOIAC. With the Mustangs’ top two scorers, Dillon Bruxvoort and Logan Gilman, coming into the game averaging a combined 42 points a game, the Norse stepped up and turned in a strong defensive effort, holding those two players to just 14 points. But a couple of other Mustangs, Devon Woody and Ricky Reeve, came through in the second half, scoring 17 and 10 points, respectively, after the break to enable the visiting Mustangs to prevail by nine, 58-49, Friday night (Dec. 13) in Story City.

"We did what we wanted to do defensively," commented Coach Berggren, "and (we) made someone other than their leading scorers beat us. To their credit they had two kids who stepped up and made plays, and that was the difference."

The Norse trailed PCM 12-8 at the end of the first period, but the home team took a slight 22-19 lead into the locker room at halftime with a 14-7 advantage in the second quarter. By the end of the third period, however, PCM had resumed a four-point advantage at 39-35. The Mustangs slowly pulled away in the final frame, winning by the final margin of nine points.

Zach Hovick led the R-S scorers with 16 points. Tyler Hovick had 15 points, all on five three pointers. Ben Clark added eight points, followed by Adam Shorkey with five, John Barclay had three points and Nich Ahrens pitched in two points. The Norse shot 15 of 44 for 34 percent from the field, while PCM was 20 for 45 for 44 percent. Both teams were even at the free throw line; the Norse hitting 10 of 13 and the Mustangs making 10 of 14.

PCM out-rebounded the Norsemen 34-25, with Zach Hovick having a strong night on the glass with 10 rebounds to post a double-double. Clark also dished off eight assists.

"I thought our kids did an excellent job executing what we wanted to do on both ends of the floor," concluded Berggren. "We were down (just) four with the ball twice in the last minute, but just couldn’t hit a big shot when we needed to. This was the first close game we were behind going down the stretch, and we will learn (from this) and get better from it. I am really proud of the ffort we gave again tonight, and continue to give, night in and night out."