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Dead eye Joe: Sandhoff buries Warriors with seven threes, triple-double

Friday, January 11, 2013

STORM LAKE - With Alta-Aurelia keying slowing down St. Mary's 1-2 punch of Luke Lenhart and Kennedy Drey, Joe Sandhoff found a little extra shooting room Tuesday night in Storm Lake, and the Panther senior made the Warriors pay.

Sandhoff, who has registered double figure scoring in all but one game this season, exploded for a career-high 27 points as he knocked down 7-three pointers, and added a 6-for-6 night at the line in a 76-41 Panther win.

That wasn't all, however, as Sandhoff turned in the elusive triple-double with 10 rebounds and 10 steals. He added two assists and two blocks before fouling out in the fourth.

Drey had another run-of-the-mill 18-point, 10-rebound, 4-block outing, but Lenhart battled foul trouble throughout the first half and finished with just six points and two assists. He got a little help from his friends, however, as Josh Demers turned in 12 points on four-three pointers, while adding four rebounds and three assists. Not to be outdone, Dillan Smith knocked down three triples of his own to finish with 11 points and 11 assists.

"Joe had a great shooting night. He and Dillan and Josh," said St. Mary's head coach Brad Wilkening. "They left Joe open, and he put them down. They tried to take Kennedy and Luke out. They didn't have the size to handle Kennedy. I know (Luke) he's disappointed because he's a scorer and he didn't score, but I told him 'your floor game and your defense and your ability to let other guys be involved let us win big.' He let the reigns go to some of the other guys who were hot."

All told, the Panthers knocked down 15 three-pointers on the night in 29 attempts. They were 26-of-52 from the floor and 9-of-18 at the line. The held a 37-28 edge on the glass.

Alta-Aurelia looked poised to give St. Mary's a run for their money early on, playing the Panthers to a 12-12 tie midway through the first. However, back to back threes by Lenhart and Smith kicked off a 10-0 run to close the first at 22-12.

A three and two free throws from Sandhoff, a three from Smith, and a Drey free-throw pushed the lead to 39-20 midway through the second. A-A would mount a small rally, closing on a 6-1 run and got an added bonus as Lenhart and Sandhoff both picked up their third foul apiece before the end of the half.

Alex Larson and Jayden Van Berkum pulled Alta-Aurelia within 42-30 early in the second half, but then Sandhoff caught fire.

The senior pumped in back to back three, snared a defensive rebound and hit a streaking Kennedy Drey for a three-point play, and then knocked down another three to push the lead to 54-34. Smith would tack on another three, and Drey another two, as the Panthers capped off 17-4 run to lead 61-35 after three.

Sandhoff would tack on another three in the fourth, and Demers would knock down back to back triples as the 2nd-ranked Panthers coasted to another victory.

The win makes it nine-straight for the unbeaten Panthers, who now enter the meaty part of their schedule beginning with Spalding Catholic (3-7) tonight in Storm Lake. East Sac County (8-3) follows at home Friday and Newell-Fonda (8-2) at home Tuesday. Then it's road trips to Manson NWW (8-2) on the 18th, LeMars Gehlen (8-2) on the 21st and M-M-C (7-2) on the 22nd.

"This is a real big stretch," said Wilkening. "We've got six teams who are quality teams and we're going to have to be ready to play."

Van Berkum finished with 10 points and four rebounds to lead the Warriors. Colton Ballantyne matched with 10 points and three rebounds, Ross Friedrich had eight points and five assists, Mitchell McDonald had seven points and five rebounds, and Nathan Flaherty had four points.

"I was really proud of the way our guys started the game," said Alta-Aurelia head coach Randy Bissen. "We came ready to play and gave great effort. We handled their pressure and made some shots early. Defensively, we really tried to make it tough for Luke and Kennedy, but when you have Joe Sandhoff, Josh Demers, and Dillan Smith making a bunch of outside shots it makes them tough to beat."

The Warriors fall to 4-7 with the loss. They host South Central Calhoun Friday night and Cherokee next Thursday.

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