Boys basketball: Florence overcomes Lena, 76-61

Florence’s Evan Beaster shoots against Lena on Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2018, in Florence, Wis. (Adam Niemi/Iron Mountain Daily News)

FLORENCE, Wis. — A slow start didn’t stop Florence from overcoming a first-half deficit to beat Lena 76-61 in a non-conference game on Tuesday.

The Bobcats (4-4, 3-1 Northern Lakes Conference) were down by as much as nine points with about six minutes to go in the first half. Four minutes later, the Bobcats took a 32-31 lead.

Florence held a 37-31 halftime lead and quickly built a 10-point lead to start the second half.

The Bobcats pushed the lead to 18 points before Lena (0-8, 0-4 M&O Conference) cut the lead to six points with six minutes to go. Florence responded by extending the lead to 14.

“A win’s a win after Christmas break. We started off real sloppy,” Florence head coach Bryan Bomberg said. “It was nine to nothing before we got our first bucket. I’m just happy we won. We weren’t comfortable. For whatever reason we weren’t comfortable.”

Evan Beaster’s 34 points led Florence.

Colby Borchert led Lena with 27 points. He knocked down five 3-pointers in the game including four in the first half when the Wildcats held a lead. When Florence scored its first bucket midway through the first half, Lena’s shooting began to falter.

Lena coach Fritz Weidner said starting strong and going flat has been a pattern this season so far. With four seniors who have limited varsity experience, along with two juniors seven sophomores, the team has had inconsistency facing different game situations. Sometimes, Weidner said, the team panics during another team’s run and stops shooting well.

“That’s kind of been our MO this year. We play really well in spurts and then we play haphazardly in spurts and we can’t seem to put it all together,” Weidner said. “It’s just the youth of our team. We are super young. We start one or two seniors and one of the seniors we normally start doesn’t have a ton of experience and the rest of them are sophomores. It’s a learning experience.”

Florence is in the same position with youth and inexperience. Bomberg said the Bobcats did well not to panic after their 18-point second-half lead was cut to six.

“We had almost pushed it up to 20 at one point and all of a sudden I turned around to talk to one player and we’re only up 13,” Bomberg said. “I called a timeout and tried to adjust again but again that’s part of being youthful.”

Bomberg said he urged the team to keep playing to its strengths, particularly feeding Beaster as he cut towards the basket.

“There was a timeout on Lena’s part after they cut it and I told them let’s just go back to what works,” Bomberg said. “Our pick-and-roll was working and Beaster was playing really well inside for us. Let’s get the ball inside, whether we get it to Evan or if one of the guards cuts, let’s play to our strengths. Credit to them, they did. They got back to what was working for them.”

Florence JV won 16-13.

Florence hosts White Lake on Thursday.

Lena 31 30 — 61

Florence 37 39 — 76

LENA (61): Borchert 27, Rowell 19, Potter 9, Cops 4, Sobeck 2. FT: 9-17. F: 24 (Potter and Pynaker fouled out). 3PT: Borchert 5, Rowell 3.

FLORENCE (76): Beaster 34, Hixon 19, Schuls 18, Millan 4, Brauning 1. FT: 14-29. F: 18. 3PT: Schuls 2, Hixon 1, Beaster 1.