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Knights edge Faulkton in key conference contest

Aberdeen Christian’s Jackson Isakson, left, passes the ball along the baseline away from the pressure of Faulkton’s Layne Cotton, back right and Hunter Niederbaumer, right, during Tuesday night’s game at the Aberdeen Christian School gym. Photo by John Davis taken 1/18/2022

Aberdeen Christian found a way to win another intense battle and now the Knights stand alone atop the Lake Region Conference boys’ basketball standings.

A few days removed from handing Potter County its first overall loss, fourth-rated Aberdeen Christian gave Faulkton its LRC setback with a 58-54 decision at the Christian School Gym Tuesday night.

“They definitely came to play,” said Christian coach David Rohrbach of the Trojans. “It was a good solid defensive game.”

While the Knights never trailed in the contest, they were never able to shake the visitors who always managed to make a key shot to stay within striking distance.

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“They’re a phenomenal basketball team, Aberdeen is,” said Faulkton coach Kyle Erdahl. “We knew that coming in, but we also know that we’re a good basketball team and that we can play with anybody.”

That was evident as the two squads battled the entire way.

Christian led by 10 points on several different occasions, but each time Faulkton cut into the deficit.

“It was a good team win,” said Christian junior Jackson Isakson. “I thought coming out in the second half, we kind of slowed down a little bit and then they sped it up and got some quick points. I thought we fought back well and kept our lead.”

Faulkton was forced to foul down the stretch and got Christian to miss free throws. The Knights managed to make just 5 of 13 free throws in the final quarter. However, often when they did miss, they were able to collect offensive rebounds for more opportunities.

“We had to put them on the line. They missed free throws,” Erdahl said. “At the same time, they executed at the end. They got those rebounds off those missed free throws and that really killed us.”

Those rebounds eventually helped to seal the deal for the Knights.

“I thought Jackson grabbed a couple of huge rebounds, offense and defense, and then (Ethan) Russell grabbed a couple of big defensive boards and (Andrew) Brennan grabbed a big board,” Rohrbach said. “Those are winning plays that don’t typically show up hugely in stat sheets.”

Aberdeen Christian’s Kaden Clark, left, puts up a shot over the defense of Faulkton’s Hunter Niederbaumer, right, during Tuesday night’s game at the Aberdeen Christian School gym. Photo by John Davis taken 1/18/2022

Russell finished with 19 points, Malek Wieker 14 and Isakson nine. Each of them hauled down eight rebounds. Kaden Clark contributed eight points and six rebounds.

Layne Cotton topped Faulkton (9-2) with 14 points, many coming on difficult mid-range jumpers.

“(Cotton) is very impressive. He hit some difficult shots,” Rohrbach said. “We knew he was a good player coming in and then when a quality player is hitting tough shots it makes it more difficult.”

Hunter Niederbaumer contributed 11 points and nine rebounds, and Bennett Cassens followed with nine points, including a pair of late three-pointers to keep Faulkton within range.

Christian, 7-2 on the year, concludes a demanding week of games by hosting Waubay-Summit on Thursday at 8 p.m. at the Civic Arena, before taking on Platte-Geddes Saturday at the Hanson Classic at the Corn Palace in Mitchell.

The Knights already have two big wins in the past four days and will be looking for more.

“That’s what we said in the locker room, 50 seed points is 50 seed points, no matter what,” Isakson said. “It’s good to get this win. We have two more coming up that we hope will be 50, too.”

FAULKTON (9-2): Bennett Cassens 3 0-0 9, Ryan Beckler 3 0-1 7, Simon Bowar 3 2-3 8, Layne Cotton 7 0-0 14, Hunter Niederbaumer 4 3-8 11, Roman DeMaria 2 1-2 5. Totals 22-51 6-14 54.

ABERDEEN CHRISTIAN (7-2): Andrew Brennan 3 0-1 6, Jackson Isakson 4 0-2 9, Ethan Russell 8 1-2 19, Malek Wieker 4 5-8 14, Kaden Clark 4 0-0 8, Abe Holscher 1 0-0 2. Totals 24-51 6-13 58.

Faulkton 10 19 37 54

Aberdeen Christian17 27 42 58

3-point field goals – Cassens 3, Beckler, Isakson, Russell, Wieker. Total fouls – Faulkton 16; Aberdeen Christian 17. Rebounds – Faulkton 30 (Niederbaumer 9); Aberdeen Christian 38 (Isakson 8, Russell 8, Wieker 8). Turnovers – Faulkton 10; Aberdeen Christian 6.

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