Aberdeen Central had a fast start that provided momentum and a stellar finish that produced a victory Friday night.
The Golden Eagles broke away from a tie game by closing on a 6-1 run to secure a 56-51 win over Harrisburg in Eastern South Dakota Conference boys’ basketball action at Golden Eagles Arena.
AJ Hase, who led the Eagles in scoring, hit a shot from just inside the three-point line to put Central in front 52-50 with 2:41 remaining.
“I just had to lock in and shoot how I normally shoot, and it went in,” Hase said.
He then added a pair of free throws with 1:35 remaining to give the Eagles a bit of a cushion to work down the stretch.
Hase finished with 20 points to lead Central on offense.
“Huge shot,” said Central coach Brent Norberg of the late perimeter basket from Hase. “He shot that way all week in practice. He’s been getting better and better. He’s getting more confident. He’s taking better shots. He understands what is a good shot.”
The Tigers cut the deficit down to three points in the final minute and had a look at a game-tying shot, before Jackson Dorsett iced the win with a pair of free throws.
Central started the game on a 9-0 run and played with a double-digit lead for most of the contest.
“That was huge,” Hase said of the game’s beginning. “It started the momentum for all of us. Everyone was into the game more. It helped a lot.”
The Eagles scored from a variety of angles in the opening half and led by a dozen points at the break.
“I thought our kids did a great job coming out and getting us some good offense early,” Norberg said, “and that gave us energy that we carried the whole game.”
The Eagles led 43-30 late in the third quarter, before the visitors made a run, scoring 10 unanswered points and things were tight the rest of the way.
“They’re really hard to guard because they have so many ballhandlers and so many shooters,” Norberg said. “Even their big will step out and drain a three, and they’re athletic.”
Central had a tough time handling Ethan Determan, who led all scorers with 25 points for Harrisburg. He scored in a variety of ways throughout the game.
“He’s phenomenal. He’s just a dude,” Norberg said. “He can stare you in the face and shoot it. He can drive you and score at the rim. He can get an offensive rebound and score. There were times we were right there and he just looked at us and shot it anyway.”
Alec Voegele added 15 points and 11 rebounds to the Central total, and Dorsett contributed 12 points.
In the end, Central made the key plays to record an important win in the battle for seed points.
“It means a lot. Harrisburg is a big win. They’re a pretty good team,” Hase said. “We prepared well for them and came out to play tonight.”
Central, 9-5 on the season, plays at Mitchell on Tuesday night.
While the Eagles still have six games left during the regular season, Friday night’s victory could prove to be a crucial one in the chase for a potential home-court game during the post season.
“There’s a lot of basketball to be played, but it’s huge. You look at these games, especially with the depletion of our team right now with a couple of guys out, it was so big,” Norberg said. “They’ve got a lot of good wins and they’ll get more good wins, so it’s a huge game that way.”
HARRISBURG (7-6): Ethan Determan 9 5-6 25, Gavin Aasheim 3 0-0 8, Andrew Walter 2 1-3 5, Maxwell Knutson 1 0-0 3, Jacob Mehrman 5 0-0 10. Totals 20-48 6-9 51.
ABERDEEN CENTRAL (9-5): Alec Voegele 5 4-7 15, Sam Rohlfs 1 0-0 2, AJ Hase 5 7-8 20, Brady Rohrbach 1 2-2 4, Carter Dingman 1 0-0 3, Jackson Dorsett 4 3-3 12. Totals 17-45 16-20 56.
Harrisburg 12 22 37 51
Aberdeen Central 24 34 43 56
3-point field goals – Determan 2, Aasheim 2, Knutson; Voegele, Hase 3, Dingman, Dorsett. Total fouls – Harrisburg 16; Aberdeen Central 12. Rebounds – Harrisburg 27 (Knutson 6, Mehrman 6); Aberdeen Central 36 (Voegele 11, Rohlfs 9). Turnovers – Harrisburg 11; Aberdeen Central 15. Assists – Harrisburg 9; Aberdeen Central 7 (Rohlfs 4). Steals – Harrisburg 4 (Determan 2); Aberdeen Central 5 (Hase 3).
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