The Milbank Area Bulldogs played an outstanding defensive game, but it was not enough to secure the victory. The Dawgs dropped 64-56 to the Deuel Cardinals in the final game of high school double header basketball action Tuesday, January 3, at the Milbank Armory. The locals fell to 3-4 on the season with the loss.
“You have to give Deuel credit. They came out and played terrific,” noted Bulldog head coach Matt Bastian. “I was pleased with our defense and the effort we gave throughout the game. We had them a number of times with the shot clock winding down, yet they found a way to make a shot, many of which were heavily contested.”
Milbank Area got out to a slow start on the offensive side of the ball. The Bulldogs worked hard but were unable to make their shots fall early on. Deuel also started off a bit slow, but held a 3-1 lead late in the opening quarter. The locals remained behind at 12-4 at the end of the period.
It appeared a lid was on the basket on the Dawgs end of the court. Milbank Area continued to work, but the shots would not fall through the net, and the locals trailed by 20 points at 27-7 midway through the second period. Senior Nate Bien broke the omen by firing in a three-pointer. Milbank Area fought its way back with a full court fast break lay-in by Jonny Ash followed by a three by Matt Lenards. Milbank Area cut the Deuel lead to 10 points with a 8-0 run led by Bien, Ash and Cody Dockter. Deuel then ended the first half at 32-20 with a field goal at the buzzer.
Milbank Area laid on a tough full court man pressure throughout the second half. The Bulldogs pulled to within seven points midway through the third before Deuel hit back-to-back three’s to move further ahead at 45-30 heading into the final stanza.
The fourth quarter started out like a three point contest. Bien hit a big three, but Deuel quickly answered with one of their own. Riley Wollschlager fired in a three, with Bien hitting two more shortly after to make the score 58-44 with just under three minutes remaining. Ash hit a three of his own before James Weber dropped in a field goal and was fouled. With the made free throw, Milbank Area cut the deficit to 62-50 with 1:30 on the clock. Ash then came up with two big blocks. One the second one, Weber recovered the ball and was again fouled. He made both shots from the charity stripe to pull to within 10 points again at 62-52 with one minute remaining. With time running out, Milbank Area was forced to foul to regain possession of the ball, and was unable to pull any closer.
“Offensively, we got off to a slow start that we just weren’t able to overcome,” Bastian added. “I am still proud of how the guys battled the whole game.”
Bien led Milbank Area with 16 points, two rebounds and two assists. Ash followed closely with 14 points, three rebounds, one steal and two blocked shots. Dockter tallied 11 points, eight rebounds and one steal for the Dawgs. Lenards contributed seven points and four rebounds while Weber added five points and one board.
Rounding out the team totals for the Bulldogs were Wollschlager, three points, one rebound, one assist and one steal; Derrick Aho, two rebounds, three assists and two steals, and Mitch Quade, one rebound.
Milbank Area made 38 percent of its shots from the field, making 21 of 56 attempts. The locals were 8-for-27 in the first half for 30 percent. The Bulldogs ended the game with 33 rebounds, 11 steals, six assists, two blocked shots and 13 turnovers.
Deuel went 21-for-42 from the field for 50 percent shooting in the contest. The Cardinals won the game with 25 rebounds, 10 steals and 13 turnovers.
Milbank Area will be back in action Thursday, January 5, in the final game of double header basketball with Sisseton at the Milbank Armory. Games begin at 4 p.m.
Pictured above: senior Riley Wollschlager.