Natoma Boys Defeat Sylvan-Lucas For 1st Time Since '15

KRSL GOW Basketball
KRSL GOW Basketball

GIRLS: Sylvan-Lucas 41, Natoma 10

BOYS: Natoma 40, Sylvan-Lucas 37

NATOMA-Tracen Frye scored 12 points and sank six out of nine free throw attempts in the fourth quarter as the Natoma Tigers Boys Basketball team edged Sylvan-Lucas 40-37 in Northern Plains League action Tuesday evening.  The Sylvan-Lucas Girls defeated Natoma earlier 41-10.

In the girls game, Sylvan-Lucas took control early, storming out to an 11-0 advantage after the first eight minutes.  The second quarter was fairly even as the Lady Mustangs outscored the Lady Tigers 8-6 to lead 19-6 at intermission.  Sylvan-Lucas then used stifling defense, which converted turnovers into points as the Lady Mustangs dominated with an 18-2 third quarter to stretch the lead to 37-8 before settling for the 31-point win.

Keeli Knobbe of Sylvan-Lucas (6-2, 4-0 NPL) led all scorers with 13 points while Emma Finkenbinder added eight.  Natoma (0-6, 0-3 NPL) was led by six points from Candyce Engling.

The Boys contest was much anticipated with Sylvan-Lucas starting at least 7-0 for the third consecutive year and Natoma, ranked #10 in Class 1A Division ll off to its best start in several years.   The two league rivals whose schools are separated by 40 miles, played two close games last season, both won by Sylvan-Lucas including a 55-43 decision in favor of the Mustangs in the Class 1A Regional semifinal played in Claflin.

The Mustangs scored the game's first four points before Natoma charged back to take a 7-6 lead in the first quarter which ended in a 9-9 tie.  Sylvan-Lucas struck first in the second stanza on a three-point basket by Jaxson Heenan to take a 12-9 lead but the Tigers held a 7-2 advantage for the rest of the period and led 16-14 at intermission.

After halftime, the lead changed hands several times before Natoma seized the advantage at 28-25 at the end of the third quarter.  Jayce Dickerson's second three-pointer of the game early in the fourth quarter helped the Tigers stretch their lead to a game-high eight points at 35-27 with just over three minutes remaining.  The Mustangs, however would not go away as they went on a 7-0 run to trim their deficit to 35-34 with just under a minute left.  Natoma then was able to win the game at the free throw line with Frye's six free throws and a critical make by Kayden Martinez.  Valden Dohl of Sylvan-Lucas knocked down a trey as time expired to provide the 40-37 margin.

Natoma (5-1, 3-0 NPL) shook off rust after a layoff that dated back to December 18.  Dickerson, Natoma's leading scorer had 10 points but was held under his average as were the Tigers second and third leading scorers Martinez and Jayson Engling.  Natoma picked up their first win over Sylvan-Lucas (7-1, 3-1 NPL) since the 2014-15 season.

The Mustangs were led by eight points apiece from Dohl and Jonah Huehl who was held well under his average of 17.2 points per game entering the contest and who played most of the second half with four fouls.

Sylvan-Lucas returns to action later this week with the Boys traveling to Clifton-Clyde for a recently added game on Thursday while the Girls will make a trip to Wakefield on Friday.  Natoma is off until January 19 when the Tiger teams travel to Wilson for a rematch with the Dragons.  The doubleheader which was also recently added as a way to make up for games missed in the canceled Northern Plains League Tournament will not count in the league standings.