The first time, Mankato West made so many shots, taking an early lead and rolling to a 32-point victory over Mankato East.
It was unlikely to be that easy on Tuesday, when the teams met again at Bresnan Arena.
“It’s East-West; you throw away the records,” Scarlets sophomore center Jake Dale said. “You just play. You know it’s going to be a good game. They came out with a lot of energy, but we picked it up in the second half and got the W.”
Dale and senior post Braedan Myers combined for 31 points in a 76-62 victory over East in a Big Nine Conference boys basketball game Tuesday at Bresnan Arena. Dale scored 17 points, while Myers added 14. The duo scored 22 points in the second half.
“We all played well together,” said Dale, who also had nine rebounds. “If someone is open, we get the ball to them.”
East took advantage of some early offensive rebounds to take a 9-2 lead, with Mattu Chuol popping a 3-pointer at the 14-minute mark. But the Scarlets slowly took control, going on a 19-7 run over the next eight minutes, with Makela’s first 3-pointer putting West up 21-16.
The Scarlets continued into halftime, going up 30-22 on a 3-pointer by Matt Braun.
“The first time we played them, it seemed like every shot in the first half went in,” West coach Tom Boone said. “You can’t expect that to happen again. They came out hard at us with some second-chance points, and they’ve got some guys that are tough to guard. But we weathered that storm and got back after it.”
The Cougars made a strong run midway through the second half, and Josh Sloniker’s 3-pointer pulled East within 49-45 with 10 minutes to play.
“We played 26 strong minutes of the 36,” East coach Dave Makela said. “West had a nice run in the first half and a nice run in the second half. Then we had some empty possessions, and we couldn’t get the stops. When we execute and defend, we can be a pretty good team.”
Myers had a string of eight straight points, and Dale put together eight straight points as the Scarlets kept the lead. Makela finished with 18 points, with two 3-pointers and six free throws in the final 4 minutes.
“We knew Myers and Dale were going to get some buckets, but they needed someone to hit some perimeter shots,” coach Makela said. “Tonight, that was Jake Makela.”
Chuol led East with 19 points, and Gorg Alhag had 13 points and 11 rebounds. Matt Bornholdt added 10 points.
East (10-14, 6-10 in Big Nine) finishes the regular season with home games Thursday against Marshall and Friday against Albert Lea. West (16-8, 11-6) plays its final regular-season game Friday at Rochester Century.
The Section 2AAA seedings will be announced today.
“I think the kids have bought into what we’re trying to do, and they know they have to bring their best effort every game,” Boone said. “We’ve taken some lumps this season, but we’ve gotten back up and learned from that.”
On the Web Free Press photographer Pat Christman's photo galleries from the East-West boys and girls basketball games. www.mankatofreepress.com