Boys basketball: Huge run sparks Florence in win

Bobcats make 25-2 run late in 1st half to rout Niagara 75-36

Florence's Toby Wheeler goes for a layup as Niagara's Ethan Sweig, left, and Joshua Weber defend on Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2018, in Florence, Wis. (Adam Niemi/Iron Mountain Daily News)

FLORENCE, Wis. — A late first-half rally ignited Florence in a 75-36 non-conference rout over Niagara on Tuesday.

The Bobcats (1-0) went on a 25-2 scoring run in the final five minutes of the first half, taking advantage of turnovers and steals to build the lead. What was a 20-all game turned into a 45-22 halftime lead for the Bobcats.

Kaden Schuls’ six steals helped him to a 30-point night for the Bobcats. He hit three triples all in the first half. Evan Beaster added 16 points with a team-high 12 rebounds.

“It started on the defensive end,” Florence head coach Bryan Bomberg said. “We got defensive stops, or steals and we got it where we were able to run. That’s what we want to do this year with this group.”

Tristan DeJardin led the Badgers (0-1) with 13 points. He went up for a layup contested aggressively by Schuls, who landed on each other behind the basket. DeJardin exited the game with a right knee injury. There was 2:46 left in the game and Florence leading 73-30.

DeJardin was helped off the court, leaving the Badgers’ offense in limbo for Thursday’s home opener against Goodman-Pembine.

“I’m worried about Tristan since he’s our point guard and our best player,” Niagara head coach Jim Hoogland said. “We’re worried about him not being there. That’s going to leave a big hole.”

Other than DeJardin’s injury, the Badgers struggled to strike a rhythm on offense or defense. But with eight players suited up, Hoogland said he knew it’d be tough to try matching Florence’s speed while staying fresh.

“We’re very tired. We don’t have a lot of bodies as you can tell. The two JV guys I have are just one half guys,” Hoogland said. “I wanted to see them take care of the turnovers. A couple times in the second half we ran our offense and actually got a real good shot. We have a lot of work to do, but I’m happy with their attitude. They worked hard tonight considering the numbers and considering the (DeJardin) situation.”

Landen Kaldor and Joshua Weber had 10 and six points apiece, respectively. DeJardin grabbed five of Niagara’s 14 rebounds.

Bomberg said the team has to somehow keep the momentum going with a Northern Lakes Conference game against Phelps.

“They’re picked to finish second, we’re picked to finish fifth,” Bomberg said. “We have something we want to prove. They’re a guard-heavy team that’s going to be scrappy and aggressive. We’re going to have to do it if we want to win ballgames.”

Hoogland said Florence’s run came when the Badgers lost confidence with the turnovers.

“First of all I thought we started off playing very well. I was happy with how we were playing with the ball and transitioning,” Hoogland said. “Florence got a couple turnovers after going into their press, scored and then smelled blood in the water. Then we kind of — without a lot of experience — held onto the basketball. We lost our confidence, which led to a lot more turnovers, some big baskets. Then we started panicking on offense, shooting the ball early instead of relaxing on offense. It snowballed.”

Niagara 22 14 — 36

Florence 45 30 — 75

NIAGARA (36): DeJardin 13, Kaldor 10, Weber 6, Tripp 4, Carlson 3. FT: 3-6. F: 9. FG: 15-53. 3PT: 3-19 (Kaldor 2, DeJardin 1). Rebounds: 14 (DeJardin 5). Turnovers: 25.

FLORENCE (75): Schuls 30, Beaster 16, Hixon 12, Wheeler 9, Krueger 4, Braining 4. FT: 6-12. F: 11. FG: 32-70. 3PT: 5-23 (Schuls 3, Hixon 1, Beaster 1). Rebounds: 40 (Beaster 12). Turnovers: 16. Steals: 19 (Schuls 6).