Don’t count them out: Vikings rally from 15 down to beat No. 8 Redwood ValleyPublished 8:56pm Monday, December 30, 2013
HAYFIELD —You can’t ever count out the Hayfield’s boys basketball team, especially after their most recent performance.
The Vikings bounced back from a 15-point second half deficit to rally past Redwood Valley 67-62 in overtime in Hayfield Gym Monday.
Hayfield won the game with defense as it held the Cardinals (7-2 overall), who are ranked No. 8 in Class ‘AA’ to just 12 points over a 14-minute stretch to close the game. Hayfield blanked RV in overtime as Cole Kruger scored on a drive to put Hayfield up 64-62 to start the extra session and the Vikings went 3-for-4 from the free throw line to close the game out.
“They play a different style,” Hayfield head coach Chris Pack said of the Cardinals. “We don’t see a lot of that dribble drive and it put us in some tough situations defensively. We had to decide whether to switch or not to switch. I thought we did very well defensively in the second half.”
Hayfield (10-1 overall) trailed 50-35 with 10:30 left in the game, but the Vikings used a quick 8-0 burst to get within 50-42 and they put together a 10-2 run to pull within 60-59. Carter Pesch hit a pair of big 3s in the comeback as he drilled one to make it 56-52 and hit another to make it 58-57 with 2:47 left.
“We just stuck to what we were going to do. We kept playing hard and we finally hit some shots,” said Pesch, who scored 15 points. “We had to stick together as a team.”
Hayfield took a 61-60 lead when Cole Kruger hit two free throws with 1:20 left, but after Cam Rutledge missed the front end of a one-and-one, the Cardinals drew a foul and took a 62-61 lead by hitting two free throws. Kruger forced the extra session when he hit one of two free throws with seven seconds left.
Kruger finished with 21 points, eight assists and six rebounds in the win and he knew it was just a matter of time before Hayfield got its offense going.
“The ball’s going to fall for good teams and we think we’re a good team,” Kruger said. “It was bound to happen eventually.”
The Vikings won the game while playing just six players against a Cardinal team that loves to play fast and push the pace. Hayfield was able to off-set RV’s attack by forcing 17 turnovers, while the Vikings committed just seven turnovers. Jeremy Stuart had 14 points and three steals for Hayfield, Rutledge had nine points, Merrick Ducharme had six points and 10 rebounds and Drew Streightiff had three rebounds and three assists.
“They were really running in the first half,” Kruger said. “After they got their lead, we kind of stepped it up and played the game at our pace. That’s what helped us. They’re a really good team. They’re quick, they’re strong and they’re athletic.”
The two teams exchanged runs back and forth in the first half, but the Cardinals opened the second half with a 17-7 rally to take their biggest lead of the night. Pack said his team should never think about quitting in a game this season again.
“I told them after the game if we’re ever down 15 in the second half we better not be walking with our heads down, because we just proved we could do it against a really good team,” Pack said. “You’ve got to keep playing.”
Monday’s game was originally scheduled to be played on Saturday at the Redwood Valley tournament, but due to an incoming blizzard, the tournament was called off and Hayfield had to head home. Pack was able to reach an agreement to get the Cardinals to come to Hayfield and the game was a good one for the Vikings to play.
“We knew it was going to be a good game,” Pack said. “They’re a team that went to state last year and they’re going to be right there again this year. This was a good game to see where we’re at.”
RV 33 29 0 — 62
Hayfield 29 33 5 — 67
Hayfield scoring: Cole Kruger, 21; Carter Pesch, 15; Jeremy Stuart, 14; Cam Rutledge, 9; Merrick Ducharme, 6; free throws: 59 percent (13-for-22); rebounds: 31 (Ducharme, 10); turnovers: 7