PIERZ - Nic Johnson waited until 34 seconds remained in Tuesday's non-conference boys' basketball game to make his first field goal of the season.
The junior guard nailed a 3-pointer to bring the Pequot Lakes Patriots to within one point of the Pierz Pioneers. Pierz's Tyler Monson then nailed two free throws to seal the back-and-fourth season-opener 55-52 at the Pierz Memorial Athletic Complex.
Monson finished with 10 points, five rebounds and two steals and Chad Lanners scored eight points in both halves to finish with a game-high 16 points to go with four rebounds.
Those two helped Pierz overcome a 13-2 deficit in the first of what hopefully will become a traditional matchup between two powerhouse programs.
"In the first game it's usually a little undisciplined, people are getting used to offensive sets and I felt that was the case," said Pierz head coach Kurt Stumpf. "I just kept telling them to keep playing hard, keep your heads up and things will happen. Going into halftime I thought we did that and played good, solid man-to-man defense."
Pierz 55, Pequot Lakes 52
The key: Tyler Monson hit two late free throws and Chad Lanners scored a game-high 16 to lead Pierz
Overall: PL 0-1, Prz 1-0
Next: Pequot Lakes vs. Walker-Hackensack-Akeley at Walker 7:30 p.m. Thursday; Pierz hosts Little Falls 7:30 p.m. Saturday.
Senior guard Robert Bell drained three 3-pointers and added 11 points and four assists for Pierz, which went into the half with a 30-27 advantage.
That lead would be the difference as both teams scored 25 points in the second half. Pierz shot 10-of-25 (40 percent) from the field in the second frame, while Pequot shot 9-27 (33 percent).
Six different Patriots found the scoring column, led by sophomore post Michael Ward's 14 points. Brandon Hilts, Pequot's lone returning starter, added 13 points and Jonas Dale 11. Pequot committed 18 turnovers, eight in the second half, Five of those came with 8:33 remaining in the game.
"I just think the kids were ready to play," said Pequot head coach Garry Grewe. "I was just very pleased with how they came out. We have a very inexperienced group and we came out on the road and I was impressed with how we handled the situation."
"We talked about the first four minutes of the second half and again we came out ready to play. But we made some mistakes at the wrong times and to their credit they made a run on us. Overall, I was very pleased with how we played."
After Pequot opened with its 13-0 run, Pierz outscored the Patriots 23-10. Monson's second 3-pointer of the first half gave the Pioneers a 26-23 cushion. Aric Welle tallied eight rebounds and eight points, including a dunk.
Pequot opened the second half with a 9-4 run to claim a 35-34 lead. The second half saw four lead changes.
"Their defense led to their offense with them trapping at the top," said Stumpf. "We had four or five turnovers at the beginning of the second half. Credit to them. We all know Garry runs a tremendous program. This was a great game for us."
Pequot Lakes 27 25 - 55
Pierz 30 25 - 52
Jonas Dale 11, Brandon Hilts 13, Clayton Foster 4, William Liedl 4, Michael Ward 14, Nic Johnson 6. Team totals: FG 19-57 (35 percent), FT 10-17 (59 percent), 3-point baskets: 4-14 (Hilts 2, Dale 1, Johnson 1).
Robert Bell 11, Chad Lanners 16, Tyler Monson 10, Shane Stegora 4, Aric Welle 8, Michael Weber 8, Kyle Bednar 2, Zack Doroff 1. Team totals: FG 21-54 (39 percent), FT 7-11 (64 percent), 3-point baskets: 6-17 (Bell 3, Monson 2, Bednar 1)
JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at email@example.com or 855-5856.
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