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Fast-paced attack fuels Hamlin victory over Roncalli

Aberdeen Roncalli’s Zane Backous, on the floor center, reaches for the loose ball as Hamlin’s Tyson Stevenson, left, moves for the ball during Tuesday night’s game at the Roncalli High School gym. In on the play are the Cavaliers’ Aiden Fisher (20) and Darwin Gambler (behind Fisher) At far right for the Chargers is Easton Neuendorf. Photo by John Davis taken 1/24/2023

When the boys’ basketball game turned into a track meet Tuesday night at Roncalli Gym, it was over.

The Hamlin Chargers shook off a sluggish first quarter and ran their way to a 72-38 Northeast Conference boys’ basketball win over Aberdeen Roncalli. The Chargers exploded for 31 second-quarter points to break the game open, getting up and down the floor at break-neck speed.

“I’ve got a really athletic group,” said Hamlin coach Todd Neuendorf. “We’ve had some of those when we were here at Roncalli. Somebody once told me, when you’ve got race horses, you race them.”

The Cavaliers knew all about Hamlin’s desire to get out and run, and did their best to prevent that in the early going, trailing by just point after the opening quarter.

“We knew that they were going to try to push the tempo and I thought we did a good job of controlling it the first quarter,” said Roncalli coach Dan Gallagher. “Our goal was to make them play a half-court game. The first quarter we did a really good job of that.”

However, once the Chargers got out in transition, they were not going to be denied.

At the center of it all was point-guard Easton Neuendorf, who orchestrated the Hamlin offense.

“We’re probably better playing faster than we are slower, because we have a bunch of guys who can shoot the ball,” the sophomore said. “We can get out and run, and they can’t keep up.”

Neuendorf finished with a game-high 18 points in his first varsity game at the facility that he literally grew up in when his dad coached the Cavaliers.

“I have a lot of memories,” Easton said. “Coming into today was a little nerve wrecking at first. Just seeing all the old faces that you know and the people that you know, I was a little nervous playing in front of them for the first time.”

The Chargers as a team, got off to a rough start and trailed 11-9 before Coach Neuendorf did something he hasn’t done in his short time so far at Hamlin. He called a time out and ripped into his squad because he said he felt they were being outworked by the Cavaliers.

“First time in Hamlin I had to call a time out and have the rant. We’ve been awfully young, so I haven’t bit em very hard. Well, we called that time out and we bit em,” Coach Neuendorf said. “They haven’t seen that side of me, yet, so that’s where we had to go. They don’t understand that you have to come and play every night. You can’t take quarters off. As you get closer to the end of the year, you take a quarter off and it’s over.”

The Chargers responded in a big way and took control of the contest in very short order, scoring 11 points in a row at one stretch and 13 consecutive points during another stretch.

Coach Neuendorf said there are times when it seems like his squad may be a bit out of control, but that’s the way it needs to play.

“I told our guys, it’s kind of like blitzing in football. Sometimes, it burns you, but in the long run, if that’s who you are, then that’s what you do,” he said. “That’s what we have to do. I think people saw, when we run, we’re pretty hard to guard.”

The Cavaliers saw that first hand and simply ran out of answers.

“A lot of credit to how well they play,” Gallagher said. “They shoot the ball really well, they’re extremely quick, they can get to the basket.”

Hamlin’s Brennan Keszler, left, tries to tip the ball away from Aberdeen Roncalli’s Maddox Miller, center, during Tuesday night’s game at the Roncalli High School gym. In the background for the Chargers are Jackson Wadsworth (23) and Zac VanMeeteren (33). In the background for the Cavaliers is Caden Shelton. Photo by John Davis taken 1/24/2023

Tyson Stevenson added 15 points to the Hamlin total, Brennan Keszler followed with 12, Zac VanMeeteren scored 10, and Dawson Noem hauled down 10 rebounds.

It all added up for an enjoyable homecoming for Coach Neuendorf.

“It was great to be back here,” he said. “This is one of the best places to play and a lot of fun, and a lot of good people here, and just fun to be back.”

Maddox Miller and Darwin Gambler each scored nine points to top Roncalli.

The Cavaliers, 7-4 on the season, are back in action Thursday with a road game against Britton-Hecla.

HAMLIN (8-2): Easton Neuendorf 7 2-2 18, Tyson Stevenson 5 2-3 15, Zac Van Meeteren 4 1-2 11, Brennan Keszler 4 4-8 12, Jackson Wadsworth 1 2-2 5, Turner Stevenson 1 2-3 5, Ted Smith 1 0-0 2, Aiden Abraham 1 0-0 2, Boden Stevenson 1 0-0 2. Totals 25-51 13-20 72.

ABERDEEN RONCALLI (7-4): Maddox Miller 2 5-6 9, Caden Shelton 2 2-2 6, Aiden Fisher 1 0-0 3, Jayden Munroe 1 0-2 2, Maddox May 1 0-0 2, Darwin Gambler 4 0-1 9, Zane Backous 2 2-2 7. Totals 13-40 9-13 38.

Hamlin 15 46 62 72

Aberdeen Roncalli 14 20 28 38

3-point field goals – Neuendorf 2, Tyson Stevenson 3, Van Meeteren 2, Wadsworth, Turner Stevenson; Fisher, Gambler, Backous. Fouled out – Fisher. Total fouls – Hamlin 12; Aberdeen Roncalli 19. Rebounds – Hamlin 30 (Dawson Noem 10); Aberdeen Roncalli 23 (Gambler 6). Turnovers – Hamlin 10; Aberdeen Roncalli 15.

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