Good teams test themselves early in the season against good teams, and that’s exactly what happened Saturday when DeLaSalle slipped past Mankato East 67-63 for the third game of the Breakdown Tip Off Classic at Hopkins High School.
The Cougars, ranked No. 3 in Class 3A by Minnesota Basketball News, gave the Islanders, No.2-3A, a great fight right from the tip. A 10-0 run to open play by Mankato East happened before most fans were settled in their seats, necessitating a timeout by DeLaSalle head coach Travis Bledsoe.
“Mankato East has been playing together for a while and we knew that was going to be tough to beat,” Bledsoe said. “We took quick shots, weren’t patient enough for good shots, and that gave them confidence. When we got the shots we looked for, we were able to chip away at their lead.”
Even for the next 10-12 minutes after that first timeout, the Cougars (2-1, 0-0) were the better team, as they stifled the DeLaSalle (3-0, 0-0) offense and kept their defense running around the perimeter of the court.
Behind a balanced scoring attack and a steady second-half performance on both ends of the court, DeLaSalle edged out Mankato East 67-63 on Saturday in the Tip Off Classic at Hopkins High School.
The Islanders, ranked No. 2 in Class 3A by Minnesota Basketball News, were led in scoring by senior guard Amir Whitlock, who finished the game with 16 points, five rebounds and two blocks. DeLaSalle (3-0, 0-0) also got 14 points from Semaj Hart, 13 points from Keijuan White, and 12 points and two rebounds from junior guard Cade Haskins.
Mankato East (2-1, 0-0) led 32-29 after the first half, and was paced by senior guard Jax Madsen, who finished with 23 points and five rebounds. The senior-laden No. 3-3A Cougars also received 15 points and four rebounds from senior center Jordan Merseth.
Down 27-17 with 4:45 left in the first half, DeLaSalle finished the first half on a 12-5 run, took the lead five minutes into the second half, and held off a late push by the Cougars to secure the win.
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