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Boys Basketball

Cavaliers start, finish strong in win over Sisseton

Aberdeen Roncalli’s Zee Mounga, left, tries to drive around Groton Area’s Jacob Zak, right, during a game earlier this season at the Roncalli High School gym. Mounga had 10 points in the third quarter to help spark a win at Sisseton Thursday night. Photo by John Davis taken

SISSETON – Aberdeen Roncalli built a double-digit lead, lost it, and then rebuilt it on the way to a 49-34 boys’ basketball win over Sisseton Thursday night.

The Cavaliers used a strong second half to halt a five-game losing streak with the Northeast Conference victory.

“Overall, that the was by far the best effort we’ve given in a basketball game,” said Roncalli coach Dan Gallagher.

Roncalli bolted out to a 12-0 lead to start the game as Keegan Stewart scored eight quick points.

“We knew that we were better than the way we’ve been playing the last couple of weeks. Everyone was just ready to get after it,” Gallagher said. “We came out just firing on all cylinders as far as effort level, as far as understanding where the open shots would be, how to get it inside to Maddox (May) and create kick-out opportunities.”

However, that lead did not last long. Sisseton battled back and eventually tied the score on Riley BraveBull’s three-pointer right before the halftime buzzer.

Gallagher said his players got a bit careless with the ball in the second period.

“We ended up giving up way too many turnovers, allowing them to run in transition, Gallagher said. “We allowed them passes into the post.”

Roncalli retook control when play resumed in the second half.

The Redmen decided to play a triangle-and-two defense, face guarding Maddox Miller and Stewart. That left an opening for Zee Mounga who took advantage of it with 10 third-quarter points.

“Zee just went off. He hit back-to-back threes. He hit a short corner shot,” Gallagher said. “We got them out of their zone because of that. They realized we can’t leave that kid open. It allowed Maddox (May) to go to work. Jayden Munroe just gave us a huge spark off the bench, attacking the rim, playing great defense.”

While Mounga sparked the offense, the senior also ignited the defense, getting into passing lanes and causing havoc for Sisseton ballhandlers.

“We just preached that we just needed to deny those first passes. We knew what they were trying to get into,” Gallagher said. “Every time down the floor they were trying to pass to the wings, so we just tried to pressure that a little bit more. That’s where Zee really did some damage. He had six or seven deflections just on his own.”

As a result, the hosts managed just 12 points in the final 16 minutes.

Gallagher praised everyone who stepped on the floor for his team’s overall effort. He said the Cavaliers worked to challenge every attempt Sisseton had.

“It wasn’t like they were just missing a lot shots,” Gallagher said. “It was contested ones. We were forcing bad ones. We were forcing them into pressure.”

Stewart and May each scored 14 points for the Cavaliers.

Mounga added 10 points and re-ignited the team with his play on both ends of the floor in the second half.

“Zee took on the opportunity,” Gallagher said. “When they left him open, just to make sure they were shutting down Maddox Miller and Keegan, he owned his opportunity. He hit his shots and then he brought it to the defensive end, too.”

BraveBull topped Sisseton with 11 points.

Roncalli, 4-8 on the season, is back in action on Saturday facing Dell Rapids at 4:15 p.m. during the NEC-Dak XII Clash in Madison.

“It’s good to go against them right away after a win just to see where we’re still at,” Gallagher said, “if we can continue to bring that intensity.”

ABERDEEN RONCALLI (4-8): Zee Mounga 4 0-0 10, Caden Shelton 1 0-0 2, Keegan Stewart 5 1-2 14, Maddox May 4 6-6 14, Jayden Munroe 3 0-0 6, Brody Weinmeister 1 0-0 3. Totals 18 7-8 49

SISSETON (4-6): Jairus Chanku 4 0-0 9, Riley BraveBull 4 1-2 11, Ty Langager 3 1-1 7, Austin Kohl 1 0-0 3, Jason Fisher 2 0-0 4. Totals 14 2-3 34.

Aberdeen Roncalli 14 22 40 49

Sisseton 5 22 26 34

3-point field goals – Mounga 2, Stewart 3, Weinmeister; Chanku, Bravebull, Kohl. Total fouls – Aberdeen Roncalli 11; Sisseton 11.

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