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Waldorf thwarts Mayville State in thriller

waldorf-warriors-outline_1By Matt Oliver

FOREST CITY – The Waldorf College men’s basketball team capped an undefeated week in North Star Athletic Association (NSAA) play with a 79-78 victory over Mayville State University on Saturday.

After leading by as many as 20 points in the first half, the Warriors (11-5, 4-3) had their work cut out for them in their third NSAA win of the week. The Comets (8-7, 0-4) rallied in a second half that featured four lead changes in the final minutes.

“It was a grind,” Waldorf coach Nigel Jenkins said. “We got up big, those guys fought back and we withstood the run.”

Tyler Parrish lit it up, scoring a career-high 29 points to lead the Warriors. The 6-foot-2 senior guard from Odin, Illinois shot 47.8 percent, going 11-of-23 from the field and 5-of-10 (50 percent) from 3-point range. Parrish also turned in six rebounds, three steals and two assists.

“He’s trying to make sure he has a memorable year,” Jenkins said. “He’s been coming along nicely throughout his entire career and now it’s all paying off. He can get to the basket, he shoots the three pretty well and he’s got a mid-range game. He’s very valuable to our team.”

Waldorf senior Erik Brewer keyed the offensive attack with 21 points behind an 8-of-16 (50-percent) shooting performance from the floor and 3-of-7 (42.9-percent) finish behind the arc. Brewer grabbed four boards, handed out two assists and came away with three steals. He has averaged 22.3 points during the past three contests.

“He’s just being consistent,” Jenkins said.

Sophomore Kaden Verdin added eight points for the Warriors while junior June Prowell provided six points and a team-high four assists. Junior Michael Morgan finished with five points, three assists and seven rebounds to lead Waldorf to a 38-37 edge on the boards. Sophomore Eric English and freshman Devon Collins scored four points apiece. English hauled in five rebounds and Collins collected four boards. Freshman Isaiah Curry contributed two points and junior Brandon Silva handed out three assists.

Chuck Robinson paced Mayville State with 24 points, shooting 11-of-18 (61.1 percent) from the field and pulling down six rebounds. Jamal Branco nearly recorded a triple-double with 18 points, 11 assists and nine boards. A.B. Najee also scored in double figures with 12 points.

The Warriors led 44-33 at halftime. Mayville State shot 14-of-26 (53.8 percent) from the floor in the opening half and only got hotter, going 18-of-30 (60 percent) in the second half.

“They’re a good team,” Jenkins said. “You can look at records all you want. They’ve got a lot of weapons. They’ve got outside shooting, a very good post player inside and a very good point guard.”

The Comets outscored Waldorf 45-35 in the second half. Less than six minutes into the second half, they reduced the deficit to single digits. Najee drilled a 3-pointer, lifting Mayville State to a 71-70 advantage with 3 minutes, 57 seconds to play. Brewer answered from downtown as the Warriors went back on top 73-71. Robinson tied the game as he buried a jump shot on the ensuing possession.

Brewer sank a pair of free throws to give Waldorf a 75-73 cushion with 2:05 left on the clock. The Comets then reclaimed the lead following a 3-pointer from Darnell Landon. Parrish responded from outside, pushing the Warriors back on top 78-76.

Mayville State’s Jordan Villebrun tied the game with a layup approaching the 1-mintue mark. Morgan was fouled during the final second and hit one of two free-throw attempts to seal the win for Waldorf. The outcome was another example of the NSAA’s competitiveness.

“The way the conference is, it’s never over until the final horn goes off,” Jenkins said. “Nobody’s going to give in.”

The Comets, who powered to a 46-24 advantage in the paint, shot 32-of-56 (57.1 percent) from the field and 5-of-11 (45.5 percent) from the perimeter on the night. Waldorf finished 31-of-77 (40.3 percent) from the floor and 9-of-26 (34.6 percent) from 3-point land.

Mayville State owned a slight advantage at the foul line, converting on 9-of-17 (52.9 percent) attempts. The Warriors went 8-of-13 (61.5 percent) at the charity stripe.

Waldorf took care of the basketball, turning the ball over just four times. They racked up eight steals while forcing the Comets to commit 12 turnovers and Waldorf capitalized with an 18-4 advantage in points off turnovers. Mayville State owned a 12-11 edge in fast-break points.

Dominating the offensive glass by a 12-2 margin helped the Warriors to a 7-2 advantage in second-chance points. Fourteen bench points also keyed Waldorf, which has become accustomed to hard-fought battles with eight of its wins being decided by eight points or less this season.

“I told our guys that when it comes to back-to-back basketball games, a key ingredient is your bench,” Jenkins said. “We got good bench production. I tell my guys all of the time that you never know when I’m going to call your name. They came in and produced and gave us good minutes.”

Playing their inaugural season in the NSAA, the Warriors have been tested every time they step onto the court.

“I always try to look at the big picture because at the end of the year, there aren’t going to be any blowouts,” Jenkins said. “They’re all going to be close games and the experience that we’re getting right now is going to be huge for us.”

Starting to hit its stride, Waldorf is hoping to chase the school record for wins in a season. The Warriors aren’t getting ahead of themselves and know the schedule only becomes more challenging the rest of the way.

“This is a good group of kids,” Jenkins said. “It’s been fun coaching these guys and I still think the sky is the limit for the potential of this team. We’ve got a long way to go with some very big matchups coming up.”

Waldorf continues conference play on Tuesday, hosting Dakota State University (6-11, 0-2) at 7:30 p.m. The Warriors topped the Trojans 72-68 just three nights ago at Madison, South Dakota.

Waldorf owns a 6-1 record at Hanson Fieldhouse this season and is expecting another tight matchup. Dakota State is coming off a 67-65 road loss to Dakota Wesleyan University (13-6), which is ranked No. 13 in the latest National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Division II poll.

“Dakota State is a very balanced squad,” Jenkins said. “One through five, all of them are capable of going for 20 [points] every night. It’s going to be another tough game, but at the end of the day we have to find a way to protect home court.”