PEQUOT LAKES - Jordan Riewer didn't score his first points until 5:48 remaining in the first half.
The junior point guard was held to four points on 2-of-10 shooting. Had he not shot the Staples-Motley Cardinals would have hit 55 percent of their field goals.
But the Mid-State Conference champions wouldn't have accomplished that title Friday without their three-year starter as he sliced and diced up the Pequot Lakes Patriots defense for a 71-57 victory.
"He created a lot of points," said Pequot head coach Garry Grewe. "He might have only scored four, but he created a lot for them. We had to give up something and their other kids hurt us and some kids we didn't expect to hurt us."
It was Riewer's defense, then his court vision that sealed the Cardinals' victory.
Cardinals 71, Patriots 57
The key: Staples-Motley's Derek Wolhowe scored 19 first-half points.
Conf: PL 6-4, SM 8-2
Overall: PL 18-8, SM 18-8
Next: Pequot Lakes vs. Park Rapids in East Subsection 8-2A playoffs 7 p.m. Thursday. Staples-Motley in West Subsection 6-2A playoffs TBA
After an S-M turnover, Pequot went on the run. But a blonde blur caught up to the play and stole the ball. Riewer then found Trevor Wentworth, who drained one of his three 3-pointers, to turn what would have been a four-point lead into a nine-point Cardinals edge.
"Coach just told me to drive and kick out and my teammates were hitting," said Riewer. "Trevor wasn't shooting very well during the year and all of a sudden he shoots two big threes. I thought when he made those two in a row that was the game right there. It pretty much sealed the deal."
S-M junior Derek Wolhowe led all scorers with 25 points.
The common phrase for Staples-Motley radio personality Sam Morriss might have been, "Riewer to Wolhowe and it's good."
The two juniors connected over and over, helping Wolhowe to 19 first-half points on 7-of-8 shooting from the field.
"The way he shot tonight is the way he's been shooting all year," said Cardinals coach Lynn Peterson. "He really hasn't had a bad night shooting the basketball and we feel pretty comfortable with him taking shots from outside and he's starting to go inside and do some things."
Jason Johnson and Jacob Zetah added 10 points each for S-M.
The Cardinals never trailed and used a 7-0 run early in the first half to build a nine-point edge. From then the teams traded baskets until the Cardinals claimed an 11-point halftime lead.
Out of the break, Pequot's Michael Ward scored 10 of Pequot's first 14 second-half points. He finished with a team-high 18 and his final basket brought Pequot within seven.
"It was his best game in three weeks," Grewe said of Ward. "We tried to go inside a little bit more and it got him moving in the block, but he just picked it up finally. That's the best he's played in a couple of weeks."
Michael Goerges scored 16 and Kurtis Moody added 10 for Pequot but the Patriots didn't get any points from his bench players. The Cardinals' bench scored 29 points.
S-M's victory prevents a three-way tie for the conference title between the Cardinals, Patriots and Crosby-Ironton Rangers. S-M heads into the Section 5-1A playoffs where it will get the third seed behind Morris and Breckenridge.
"It feels good," said Riewer of claiming the conference crown. "Losing to Crosby twice kind of stinks, but hopefully we'll get them next year. But now it's just one game at a time from here on out."
Pequot has the No. 2 seed behind C-I in the East Subsection 8-2A playoffs. The Patriots open with Park Rapids Thursday.
"We have some things to clean up defensively, but that's the best effort we've had in three weeks and the most competitive we've been," said Grewe. "I was pleased, but Staples played well."
Staples-Motley 41 30 - 71
Pequot Lakes 30 27 - 57
Adam Cox 4, Jacob Zetah 10, Trevor Wentworth 9, Jason Johnson 10, Jordan Peterson 3, Derek Wolhowe 25, Jordan Riewer 4, Jon Bristow 3. FG 27-55 (percent), FT 9-14 (percent), 3-point baskets: 8-21 (Wentworth 3, Wolhowe 2, Zetah 2, Peterson).
Michael Goerges 16, Jonas Dale 9, Matthew Michaelson 4, Kurtis Moody 10, Michael Ward 18. FG 22-62 (percent), FT 11-15 (percent), 3-point baskets: 2-6 (Goerges 2).
JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at email@example.com or 855-5856.
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