Storm Lake boys take eight point thriller over Spirit Lake

Monday, January 7, 2019
Storm Lake senior Cham Deng gets a floater over Spirit Lake’s 6-10 center Owen Coburn on Friday night. Deng had 17 points to aid Storm Lake’s 63-55 win over the Indians.
Photos by Craig Shultz

STORM LAKE - The Storm Lake Tornadoes have had trouble against Spirit Lake in recent years with just one win against the Indians in their last nine contests. The green and white were able to buck that trend behind some some defensive play in the second half, taking a 63-55 victory, their sixth win on the season.

“Our guys did a good job of moving the basketball and being aggressive,” SL Coach Heath Stille said. “I also thought that we shared the basketball pretty well and did a good job of hitting the offensive glass.”

The green and white jumped out to an early lead in the first quarter, going up by eight, but the Indians rallied back to ensure the game remained close after the first eight minutes. Storm Lake carried a three point lead to the second quarter, 17-14.

Momentum switched back and forth throughout the second period between the two Lakes Conference teams. Storm Lake managed to carry a one point lead to the break, 33-32. The Tornadoes had issues containing the 6-foot-10 inch Spirit Lake senior, Owen Coburn who had 17 first half points.

“We played an alright first half on the defensive end and we made a few halftime adjustments,” Stille said. “We came out in the second half with energy and intensity and really picked up the pressure to make things very difficult for them.”

Spirit Lake claimed a three point lead at 41-38 but a pair of triples from SL seniors Chak Malou and Mach Nyaw gave the moment back to the green and white with an 8-0 run. Storm Lake’s lead was back up to three going to the final stanza, 46-43.

The Tornadoes did everything they could to pull away in the final eight minutes but the Indians refused to go quietly into the night. With 2:40 left, the green and white held a two point lead. However, Storm Lake’s pressure began to get to Spirit Lake late as the Tornadoes began to force turnovers that lead to some easy baskets, forcing Spirit Lake to foul. Storm Lake hit their free throws down the stretch to seal the win against Spirit Lake.

Tornado sophomore Jamuo Gatwech goes for a circus style layup against Spirit Lake. Gatwech had seven points on the night.

Storm Lake was led by Nyaw’s 24 points, 16 of them coming in the second half. Senior Cham Deng added 17 points and hit some big jumpers through the contest. Malou had 11 points and hit a trio of three-pointers. Sophomores Jamuo Gatwech had seven points and Mark Eddie four.

The green and white doubled up on their effort against Coburn in the second half, holding the Spirit Lake big to just two points in the final 16 minutes.

“Our guys did a pretty good job on Owen. We challenged them at halftime to hold him to 10 points or less and our guys held him to two points and that was late in the fourth quarter. I thought we did a much better job with our help defense in the second half to take away a few of the easy baskets that he got in the first half,” Stille said. “This is a big conference win for us coming out of break to get things going again. Spirit Lake is a good basketball team and we battled all night to give ourselves a chance at the end.”

Storm Lake improves to 6-3 and 3-2 in the Lakes Conference. Tonight they step out of Lakes play to head to Schaller to go against 4-6 Ridge View. The Raptors picked up a 41-38 win over Westwood on Friday night.

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