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Luverne boys' basketball storms back from 17-point deficit against Windom

Lead Summary
Brennen Rupp

The Luverne Cardinals looked like they were going to get run out of their own gym Thursday, Feb. 25, by the Windom Area Eagles.
The Eagles came out like world beaters, taking an early 13-0 lead. The Cardinals finally got on the scoreboard when Gannon Ahrendt hit a jumper with 13:15 left in the first half.
The Eagles then went on a 7-0 run to take a commanding 19-2 lead.
The battle-tested Cardinals never panicked. They didn’t abandon their gameplan.
Instead, they slowly chipped away at that lead. In the end, the Cardinals came all the way back to defeat the Eagles 72-63.
“We’ve had a ton of games where we’ve gotten down 10 points or whatever it is,” Luverne head coach John Sichmeller said.
“Sometimes you’ll see kids get down on themselves or bad body language. With this team, I haven’t seen that with them. They always think they have a chance.”
He said he coached the players to be patient and take the right shots.
“There is no home run in basketball,” he said. “You have to stay disciplined. They stuck with it and that’s why we keep winning these close games. We haven’t had a lot of blowouts. We’ve had a lot of close games.”
The Eagles knocked down four three-pointers in the early stages of the game to help them take a 19-2 lead over the Cardinals.
Following a three-pointer from Windom, Ahrendt knocked down a three-pointer of his own and then hit another jumper to cut Windom’s lead to 19-7.
Jayson Rops scored a bucket to trim Windom’s lead to 10.
An Ethan Beyer three-pointer cut Windom’s lead back down to single digits at 21-12.
With the Cardinals trailing 23-14, the Eagles hit back-to-back three-pointers to take a 29-14 lead.
An Ahrendt three-pointer made the score 33-23.
With the Cardinals trailing 33-25, the Eagles hit another three-pointer to make it a 36-25 ballgame.
At the half, the Cardinals trailed Windom 40-27.
In the second half the Cardinals outscored the Eagles 45-23. A big reason for the second half success was the team’s effort on the defensive end of the court.
“We knew Windom was going to be tough for us,” Sichmeller said. “They have four shooters on the court all the time.”
He said Luverne usually plays a 2-3 zone, but at the start of the second half the Cardinals went to a 1-3-1 zone.
“That threw them off their rhythm a little bit. Then we ended the game by playing man-to-man defense,” Sichmeller said.
“The kids really focused and stayed disciplined on what they were supposed to do. That was some of the best man-to-man defense we’ve played in a long time. We switched up our defense a little bit and got our offense going off that.”
Ahrendt led the team with 31 points. The sophomore also grabbed six rebounds, recorded four steals and blocked three shots.
Bailey Cowell recorded a double-double for the Cardinals. The senior guard scored 16 points and dished out 11 assists. Cowell also grabbed five rebounds.
Nathaniel Cole-Kraty grabbed 10 rebounds.
Rops reached double figures with 10 points. Rops also grabbed five rebounds.
With the win the Cardinals improved to 10-2 overall. They’ll be back in action on Tuesday for their final regular season home game against the Marshall Tigers.
The Tigers defeated the Cardinals earlier this season 59-42. If the Cardinals are going to upset the seventh ranked team in class AAA, they’ll have to take care of the basketball. 
“The biggest thing when we play Marshall is avoiding turnovers,” Sichmeller said.
“They put a lot of pressure on you. They have so many kids and good athletes that they throw at you. We really have to be disciplined and keep the turnovers down.”
 “We held them to 21 first-half points in the first meeting,” Sichmeller said. “Part of that is because we weren’t turning the ball over. They get a lot of points off their defense. The big key is not turning it over and handling their pressure.”
LHS          27  45  72
Windom 40  23  63
Points: Ahrendt 31; Cowell 16; Rops 10; Bose 7; Beyer 6
Rebounds: Cole-Kraty 10; Ahrendt 6; Cowell 5; Rops 5
Assists: Cowell 11
Steals: Ahrendt 4
Blocks: Ahrendt 3

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