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Warriors close out Saints

waldorf-warriors-outline_1By Matt Oliver

FOREST CITY – The Waldorf College men’s basketball team withstood a second-half rally by Presentation College to notch an 81-73 victory during Friday’s North Star Athletic Association (NSAA) contest.

“Presentation made a great run at us,” Waldorf coach Nigel Jenkins said. “We kind of lost our composure a little bit, but we found a way to win and that’s all you can ask for at the end of the day.”

Erik Brewer led the charge for the Warriors (10-5, 3-3) with a career-high 29 points, pulled down nine rebounds, handed out three assists and blocked two shots. The 6-foot-6 senior forward from Las Vegas shot 47.4 percent, going 9-of-19 from the field and 3-of-6 (50 percent) from 3-point range.

“I thought he did a good job of mixing his shots up, whether it was from three, being aggressive and getting to the line or his mid-range game,” Jenkins said. “He did a good job on the glass as well. We definitely needed him to do that.”

Brewer knocked down 8-of-12 (66.7 percent) free-throw attempts, seven of which came during pivotal stages of the second half.

“He stepped up and made some big ones down the stretch,” Jenkins said.

Waldorf senior Tyler Parrish poured in 22 points, hitting 9-of-16 (56.3 percent) shots from the floor and finishing 3-of-8 (37.5 percent) from downtown. Parrish sparked a hot start for the Warriors, scoring 17 first-half points.

“Tyler had an outstanding first half,” Jenkins said. “He got us going.”

Junior June Prowell also reached double figures, providing 17 points for Waldorf. He put together a strong finish with 10 second-half points and dished out a game-high six assists on the night.

“June practically finished the game for us and got it going throughout the course of the second half,” Jenkins said. “It was a good, balanced effort. We just hope to keep building on that.”

Sophomore Kaden Verdin added six points and four rebounds off the bench for the Warriors. Junior Michael Morgan dropped in five points, grabbed nine boards and came away with two steals. Sophomore Eric English contributed two points and eight rebounds.

Louis Cox led the Saints (6-6, 0-2) with 21 points, turning in a 61.5-percent shooting clip on a 8-of-15 showing from the field and a 3-of-7 (42.9 percent) effort from 3-point land. Tre Erby scored 18 points and Donnell Minton closed out the game with 12 points. Calvin Carr notched eight points and collected seven rebounds to lead Presentation to a 43-38 advantage on the boards.

Waldorf caught fire from the start and led by as many as 21 points while shooting 19-of-38 (50 percent) from the floor and 6-of-14 (42.9 percent) from behind the arc in the opening half. They held a 45-26 cushion at halftime, committing just four turnovers through the first 20 minutes.

“We defended very well in the first half and kind of stuck to the game plan,” Jenkins said. “Offensively, we were able to make shots, be aggressive and finish at the rim. We did a lot of good things and took care of the basketball and that’s half the battle.”

The Warriors stretched their advantage to 23 points early in the second half, jumping to a 49-26 lead with 17 minutes, 57 minutes to play. Presentation chipped away at the deficit, using a 22-7 run to trim Waldorf’s lead to 56-48 with 10:26 remaining.

“They’re a high-scoring team,” Jenkins said. “I told the guys at halftime that they’re going to make a run just because of the talent they have on their team. They have multiple guys who are capable of making big shots.”

Pushing the advantage back to 13 points, the Warriors looked to pull away with a 64-51 lead with 6:36 left on the clock. The Saints wouldn’t go away. Andre Gibson-Starks drained a 3-pointer to cap a 20-11 run for Presentation, which trailed 75-71 with 1:29 to go.

Morgan, Parrish and Brewer combined to convert on four of six foul shots in the final minute. It sealed the victory for Waldorf, which has won seven contests by eight points or less this season.

“We’ve had so many close games, we didn’t necessarily get rattled down the stretch,” Jenkins said. “When the game was on the line, we kept it together.”

The Warriors cooled off in the second half, shooting 9-of-25 (36 percent) from the field and 2-of-8 (25 percent) from the perimeter. They finished 28-of-63 (44.4 percent) from the floor and 8-of-22 (36.4 percent) from 3-point range on the night.

The Saints, who outscored Waldorf 40-30 in the paint, went 29-of-71 (40.8 percent) from the field and 5-of-23 (21.7 percent) behind the arc.

Taking care of business at the charity stripe, the Warriors sank 17-of-24 (70.8) percent attempts. Presentation hit 10-of-11 (90.9 percent) foul shots.

The Saints controlled the glass by a 17-12 margin. Both teams manufactured 12 second-chance points apiece.

Thirteen second-half turnovers slowed Waldorf chances to put the game away. The Warriors turned the ball over 17 times and the Saints committed 18 times. Presentation owned a 23-21 edge in points off turnovers and a 10-6 advantage in fast-break points.

Waldorf continues conference play on Saturday, hosting Mayville State University (8-6, 0-3) at 6 p.m. The Warriors won the first season meeting, coming out on top 72-70 in a down-to-the-wire finish at Mayville, North Dakota on Dec. 5. They know the Comets will come ready to compete as they seek their first league win.

“Our games are always a battle,” Jenkins said. “I expect the same thing this time around. Those guys are good. Just like every other team in the North Star, there’s nothing easy. We need to have a great effort to pull this off back-to-back.”