BROOKINGS – Three nights after picking up a last-second win against the Huron Tigers, Brookings took on a Watertown team it defeated earlier this season in overtime at Watertown Arena, looking for a season sweep of the Arrows.
Watertown had other ideas Friday at Bob Jostad Gymnasium, as a 10-2 run to start the second half and a 7-0 run as the third quarter ended and the fourth quarter began surged the Arrows to a 54-40 win and season split with the Bobcats.
Offensive fouls were the story of the first half as the teams combined for seven charges, and in the case of the Bobcats and head coach Travis Engebretson, it was an unintended result of the offense being executed.
“With the offense we’re trying to run right now it’s a lot of pass and cut, and we spent too much time pounding the ball [under the basket], and when you’re dribbling with your head down, you’re missing cutters and bad things are going to happen from that,” he said.
Neither squad opened up much of a scoring advantage through the first half as the Arrows led 10-7 after a quarter and 23-21 at the halftime horn – a half in which the teams combined for six lead changes and four ties.
Not exactly surprising considering the familiarity of the opponent and one-point OT win the last time they shared the court, a fact echoed by Engebretson.
“Each team knows each other so well, know their personnel so well, we watched plenty of film and knew their set plays and they knew our set plays,” he said.
Watertown jumped out of the second half gate early with a 10-2 run that pushed the lead to double digits, exactly the opposite start a team wants in the second half of a tight rivalry game.
For Engebretson, it was summed up in one word: poise. Or a lack thereof.
“I keep going back to that word poise – we used it four or five times in the locker room to start the halftime speech, and we didn’t come out with a lot of that to start the second half,” he noted.
Brookings attempted to squash the Arrows’ run to start the half after a Casey Woodall steal and layup started a quick 6-0 run, but Reese Stark, a 5foot-7 junior off the Arrows bench, provided a big spark with a 3-pointer and subsequent steal, giving the Arrows a seven-point lead of 36-29 entering the final stanza, along with a shot of momentum.
Another trey from Kale Stevenson pushed the Watertown lead to 10, and eventually 11, before a Nick Schefers and-one got the ‘Cats back within eight.
They would get no closer.
Feeling a sense of urgency, the Bobcats got sloppy and a number of turnovers and empty front ends of one-and-ones allowed the lead to grow to as much as 16, and as the Watertown student crowd proclaimed temporary residency of the gymnasium, the Arrows closed out the win.
And while it’s never easy losing to your rival on your home court, to Engebretson, the rivalry at times felt like it contributed to the negative result.
“You’re playing your archrival and the kids come out and they want it so bad, you can see it in their eyes. I don’t want to say they were trying too hard, but at times it felt like we were pressing.”
Schefers posted a strong second half and finished with a game-high 14 points to go along with six rebounds.
Hammrich was the only other Bobcat in double figures, pouring in 10, while Zach Moe added eight.
For the Arrows (7-11, 3-7 ESD), Drew Norberg matched Schefers, tossing in 14, while Dawson Schmidt added 12, along with 12 from Stark off the bench.
Looking ahead, the Bobcats’ next game with Pierre poses a unique challenge that Engebretson knows will require extra attention from him and his staff.
“[Pierre] is a tough matchup, they run a scheme – a 1-2-2 zone, press, and back to a 1-2-2 zone, and practice this next couple days is going to be so important from the fact that we have to get ready for something we haven’t seen all year long,” he noted.
That matchup with the T.F. Riggs Governors comes tomorrow night at 7 as Brookings closes out the regular-season portion of its schedule next week with a pair of home games, concluding with an afternoon matinee makeup with Harrisburg set for a 3 p.m. Saturday, which is a reschedule of the postponed January 14 contest.
The Bobcats (3-14, 2-9 ESD) currently hold down the final spot in the SoDak 16, leading the Nos. 17 and 18 seeds, Huron and Douglas.