Boys basketball: Lena beats struggling Badgers

Lena's Ralph Comins (0) and Niagara's Ethan Sweig (33) fight for the ball Monday. (Burt Angeli/Daily News)

NIAGARA, Wis. — Lena converted nine free throws in the final two minutes and turned back Niagara 55-51 in a test of struggling M&O Conference boys basketball teams Monday.

The Wildcats (1-2, 1-2), who won just one game last season, sank 17 of 23 free throws in the second half.

The Badgers (0-5, 0-3) jumped out to a 10-0 lead and owned a 33-26 advantage three minutes into the second half.

“I got a good effort,” said Niagara head coach Jim Hoogland. “But at crucial times we don’t make the correct basketball decision. That comes with playing the game, studying the game.”

The game was knotted at 47-47 with 1:35 to play after a basket from the Badgers’ Austin Tripp. The Wildcats then led for the rest of the game after a pair of Logan Shallow free throws.

Niagara had possession with 19 seconds left and trailing 54-51. However, three three-point attempts failed to fall.

“We had some good looks at the basket down the stretch but we just couldn’t get that shot to tie,” Hoogland said.

Lena junior Colby Borchert scored a game-high 24 points. Niagara had three players scoring in double figures — Landen Kaldor 17, Ethan Sweig 11 and Tristan DeJardin 10. Anthony Hansen had nine points and 12 rebounds.

Defensive breakdowns also hurt the Badgers.

“The mistakes happen at such crucial times,” Hoogland said. “But my guys fought right to the end. We just have to work on the little things.

“Give Lena credit for not folding under the pressure. They’ve had a long dry spell.”

The Badgers host Oneida Nation on Tuesday, Dec. 18.

Ty Colenso’s 10 points helped Niagara’s junior varsity down Lena 43-28.

Lena 22 33 — 55

Niagara 28 23 — 51

LENA (55): Comins 11, Beyer 6, Borchert 24, Shallow 4, Hosking 2. Gard 2, Carroll 6. FT: 19-30. F: 19. 3PT: Comins 2, Borchert 2. FG: 16-38.

NIAGARA (51): Kaldor 17, DeJardin 10, Bath 2, Tripp 2, Sweig 11, Hansen 9. FT: 12-20. F: 20. 3PT: Kaldor, DeJardin, Sweig 3. FG: 17-60.