Thursday, February 22, 2018

Sports

Boys hoops: Point shoots down Abes

Defending state champions drill16 from downtown

Stevens Point should have come to the Eagles Nest preceded by air raid sirens.

One of the most successful program in the state, the Panthers hit on 16 bombs from 3-point land and Eau Claire Memorial didn’t have much of a chance in the 75-48 nonconference game Tuesday night.

“They did a great job sharing the ball and not forcing it against our man and zone,” Memorial coach Chad Brieske said. “They couldn’t have missed too many.”

The Panthers, led by Drew Blair and Andrew Erdman, hit eight long range bombs in each half, breaking the game open early in the second half.

“Our kids can shoot the ball well,” Stevens Point coach Scott Anderson said. “We don’t normally run up a ton of 3s like this, but I thought we were patient and passed the ball well.”

Blair, who came into the game averaging 31.8 points, led the way with 20, while Erdman scored 18 with the aid of five 3-pointers.

“When you’re not big, you have to shoot the ball well,” said Blair, a 6-foot-3 senior who spent eight years in the Eau Claire school system as father Mike Blair, the former UW-Eau Claire star, served as athletic director at Durand, Memorial and Chippewa Falls before moving on to Stevens Point.

“This was pretty cool,” Drew Blair said of coming back to Eau Claire. “I know a lot of the guys.”

Anderson thought it was one of the better Panthers team efforts.

“Sometimes, the supporting cast around Blair is one or two guys, and tonight there was three or four,” he said. “We had a lot better balance.”

Erdman finished with 18 points, Drew Cullen 12 and Evan Vollendorf 11 and all got into the 3-point act as the team hit on 16 of 38 tries.

It turned the second half into pretty much of a rout as the Panthers built a 58-31 lead midway through the period.

But it looked like it might be a close game for a while. After Point hit six 3s to open the game, the Old Abes fought back on a spurt of their own, scoring 10 straight points to gain one of their only two leads of the game at 24-23.

Eliot Van Grunsven and Isaac Clark hit 3-pointers and Cormac Sampson capped the run with a layin with just over five minutes to play in the first half.

But Blair hit a 3 to trigger a 10-point run to make it 35-27 at the half and the Abes never got close again.

“We were doing some good things offensively and defensively,” Brieske said of the Abes rally. “But Stevens Point is not going to give up spurts without responding.”

Caden Boser was the only Abe in double figures with 12 points. Nathan Hau added eight on the inside, while Eliot and Ethan Van Grunsven combined for three 3s and 13 points from the outside. Cormac Sampson pulled down a game-high 11 rebounds.

Stevens Point (13-5) is a three-time defending Division 1 state champion and leads the Wisconsin Valley Conference with an 8-1 record and two-game lead on runner-up D.C. Everest.

Memorial was hurt by the absence of two starters. Tanner Kohlhepp has been sidelined three games with leg problems and won’t play again Friday against River Falls. Mitch Froehlich was attending a family funeral and will play Friday.


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