It’s still early in the winter prep sports season, but if the Lakeville South Cougars boys’ basketball team is using this time to figure out their strengths, they can say two things for sure: they know how to score, and they know how to foul.
Coming off an impressive, high-scoring, double-overtime win against St. Paul Johnson Tuesday, South played host to Hill-Murray High School Thursday night and showed no signs of fatigue, coming away with a dominating 72-49 win.
It wasn’t a smooth ride for the Cougars, who got into foul trouble early in the game. An aggressive man-to-man defense worked to contain the Pioneers’ inside game, but also led to double-digit team fouls partway through the first half. Several of the Cougars’ top players found themselves with two or three fouls before halftime, forcing South to back off of its run-and-gun offense and full-court press.
Still, the Cougars were able to shut down Hill-Murray’s Cullen Ogren and Jones Green inside the paint, so the Pioneers had to rely on their less potent outside shooting. And despite giving the Pioneers plenty of offensive rebounds, South escaped relatively unscathed when Hill-Murray was unable to capitalize on those second and third chances. The Pioneers also struggled at the free-throw line, while the Cougars fared well from the charity stripe.
Coming into the second half with a comfortable lead, Lakeville South went back to its more aggressive offensive and defensive play, and continued to keep Hill-Murray’s posts quiet. Both teams struggled with fouls again late in the second half.
Nick Sanborn, Jordan Johnson, and Matt Heller led the Cougars in scoring with double-digit totals each. Cullen Ogren and Jake Christensen were tasked with most of the Pioneers’ scoring.
Lakeville North continues a tough early-season run when they head to AAAA #1 Hopkins Tuesday night. The Cougars will wrap up 2011 at the Rochester tournament and begin their conference season Jan. 3 against Lakeville North.