SPEARFISH – It took a mammoth effort, but the Huron Tigers snapped their five-game losing streak, defeating the Spearfish Spartans 72-64 in boys’ basketball action Friday in Spearfish.
The two teams came out feeling each other out the first couple minutes of the game, with the Spartans scoring the first three points of the game on a Ty Sieber bucket underneath and a free throw from Antonio Serrano.
The Tigers responded with a Max Kranzler deep ball and a streak to the hoop by Jayden Beck to give Huron a 5-3 lead and lead Spearfish coach Eric Skoglund to call a timeout.
The Spartans responded to the timeout with a five-point run, which was quickly met by a seven-point run by the Tigers. The see-saw affair was on from that point as the Tigers would pull out to as much as four points ahead of Spearfish in the first quarter, but finished the first frame leading 18-17 in a fast-paced first period.
Kranzler opened the second quarter by drawing Spearfish’s seventh foul of the first half, putting the Tigers in the bonus for the remainder of the quarter and putting Huron up 20-17.
Spearfish freshman Ryan Heinert answered with a three, and that was just the start of things for Heinert in the quarter. He would score Spearfish’s first eight points of the frame.
Brandon Decker challenged Heinert, scoring eight points in the quarter as the teams went back and forth. A pair of free throws at the final buzzer by Smith Funke of Spearfish gave the Spartans a 36-35 lead at the halftime break.
Neither team could pull out ahead in the third quarter as each time the Tigers went on a short burst, the Spartans would counter. Referee whistles put both teams in foul trouble among some of the top players in each team’s rotation and both teams finished the third period near the team foul bonus with the score knotted at 52.
The officiating visibly frustrated both teams, and after a long trip that was made longer due to weather, Coach Jon Schouten was impressed with his team’s ability to handle calls.
“It was one of those days where things got stacked up, and our kids just let it all out on the floor,” Schouten said. “Our guys did a good job of rising above officiating questions in the game and just played above it.”
The fourth quarter was when the excellent free throw shooting the Tigers had been showing all game long came into play. Excellent switch defense on the outside allowed the Tigers to keep the Spartan outside shooting in check, and Spearfish struggled from the free throw line.
Meanwhile, Reilyn Zavesky, who missed much of the first half due to foul trouble, scored 11 points in the final quarter as the Tigers went 11-for-14 from the free throw line in the fourth quarter as a team, getting a narrow lead and hitting the free throws to hold off Spearfish to escape with a win 72-64.
While Coach Schouten was confident in his team’s ability to score, the success at the free throw line was a pleasant surprise.
“We have guys who can hit shots. When we’re patient enough offensively, those shots develop for us,” Schouten raved. “All the credit goes to the kids for sticking those free throws at the end. That hasn’t been our strong suit this year, and I’m very proud of their work tonight.”
The Tigers lift their record to 2-7 behind 21 points from Max Kranzler, leading four players in double figures. Jayden Beck hit for 16 points, Brandon Decker scored 15, and Reilyn Zavesky pitched in 13 points.
The Spartans fall to 3-5 on the year. Ryan Heinert scored 19 points, though 16 were in the first half. Seth Hamilton added 14 points.
Huron was successful in the lower-level games, winning the sophomore game 71-45 and the JV game 51-46.
The Tigers travel to Sturgis today.
Huron 18 35 52 72
Spearfish 17 36 52 64
Huron (2-7): Cade McNeil 1 0-0 3, Max Kranzler 5 8-8 21, Jayden Beck 6 2-3 16, Reilyn Zavesky 3 7-8 13, Brandon Decker 4 4-5 15, Isaiah Decker 2 0-0 4. Totals: 23 21-24 72.
Spearfish (3-5): Rylan Palmer 2 3-5 7, Seth Hamilton 4 5-10 14, Antonio Serrano 3 2-4 8, Carter Lyon 1 0-0 3, Smith Funke 1 4-6 7, Trey Wood 1 0-0 3, Ryan Heinert 7 1-2 19, Ty Sieber 1 0-0 2, Braden Delahoyde 0 1-2 1. Totals: 20 16-29 64.