MANKATO — It didn’t take long for Mankato East boys basketball coach Joe Madson to put a positive spin on a 73-56 nonconference loss Saturday afternoon to highly regarded Marshall at the East gym.
Afterall, the Tigers (12-2) forced running time in a 73-36 rout of East three weeks ago at the Marshall Holiday Tournament and were coming in off a rare loss to Willmar in their last outing. This time, the pesky Cougars hung around for much of the contest, matching Marshall point for point through the first half and trailing just 57-52 with seven minutes remaining.
“We’re taking care of the ball much better and not having so many empty possessions,” Madson said. “We were a turnover waiting to happen at the start of the year, and now we’re starting to play more under control. They beat us silly the first time, and we weren’t going to let them do it again.”
East (3-12) looked like it might be in for a repeat of the first meeting when the Tigers reeled off the first seven points — Hunter Peterson's 3-pointer and baskets from Riley Sharbono and Aaron Mathiowetz — and maintained a 19-12 lead when Peterson converted an 8-footer in the lane midway through the first half.
However, sharp-shooting senior guard Yasin Omar and hard-working senior forward Brandon Adema keyed a 19-12 surge that drew the Cougars even at 31 on Omar's 30-foot triple at the halftime buzzer. Omar fired in four 3-pointers in scoring 15 points over the first 18 minutes, while Adema nailed a pair of free-throw line jumpers and an aggressive putback.
“Coach Madson is a very good coach, and he's really stuck with his kids,” Tigers coach Travis Carroll said. “He’s helped his team on both ends of the floor to become a better team. We’ve noticed they’ve been playing better lately so we knew coming in they'd be a different team. They came out and proved that.”