Tigers top Rams, stay unbeaten in conference

by Matt Kraus Review Co respondent

HOWARDS GROVE – Undefeated in conference play, the Howards Grove Tigers’ boys basketball team hosted the Random Lake Rams in a physical, Big East Conference match-up here Tuesday night.

Devin Gallenberger’s threepointer at the first-half buzzer tied the score at 25-25, ending a comeback from the five-point deficit the Rams opened up at the 10-minute mark and maintained until 3:15 remained in the half.

“Devin’s three was huge for us. We didn’t play well in the first half and they had momentum on their side. I think it took the wind out of their sails for the second half,” said Worth.

The Tigers rode the momentum of the buzzer-beater into a 55-46 victory to improve to a conference leading 8-0 (10-3 overall). Random Lake fell to 5-4 in the conference (5-6 overall), after a third straight loss and sixth in the last seven games.

Opening the second half, senior guard Derrick Grimm grabbed a defensive rebound and went the length of the court to give the Tigers a 27-25 lead, their first since 6-4, 2½ minutes into the game.

Random Lake guard Austin Martin tied the score, 27-27, with a layup but Jordan Miller hit a free throw to give the Tigers a lead they would not relinquish.

Grimm penetrated and hit Gal- lenberger for a reverse layup and a 32-27 lead with 14:22 remaining. The Rams called timeout in an effort to stop the mini-run by the Tigers.

The teams traded a single free throw over the next three minutes before Bryan Weiss hit a threepointer to bring the Rams within two points, 33-31.

The Tigers responded by getting the ball inside to Miller who was fouled and made a free throw. Nick Brickner converted two free throws following an Eric Reinemann steal and added a basket after grabbing an offensive rebound to open a 38-31 lead.

Random Lake committed a turnover and immediately called a timeout, responding with a 7-4 run to move within 42-38.

Howards Grove answered with a reverse layup from Sam Scholten and a drive to the hoop by Bryce Pedrin to pull out to a 46-38 lead.

Random Lake then called a timeout but Grimm’s pressure defense forced a turnover. The Tigers took advantage as Grimm made two free throws to open a 48-38 lead.

“Derrick Grimm does whatever helps the team. He has a motor that keeps going. He is consistent on defense and constantly brings defensive pressure to his man,” said Worth.

After failing to convert on the following possession the Rams began to foul the Tigers with three minutes remaining. The Tigers struggled from the free-throw line, going 7-for-14 down the stretch but the Rams could only convert two three-pointers by Weiss and two free throws from Zachary Risse.

“We’ve struggled from the freethrow line all year. We thought we were over the hump. Our technique is okay – the ball is just not going in,” said Worth.

Trailing 23-18 with 4:22 remaining in the first half, HGHS called a timeout. The Tigers worked the ball inside but committed a turnover following an offensive rebound. Turning up the defensive pressure, the Tigers were able to draw an offensive foul on the Rams. Caleb Holzman was able to drive from the wing and reduce the deficit to 23-20.

A chaotic 20-second stretch saw two turnovers by each team and only one shot taken. The following minute consisted of a another missed shot and turnover by each team.

Holzman broke the scoring drought by again driving to the hoop from the wing to bring HGHS to within one point but the defense left Scott Paulus wideopen underneath for an easy lay-in and a three-point Rams’ lead with 18 seconds remaining in the half.

Gallenberger responded by taking the ball to the hoop. Micah Rautmann grabbed the rebound and was fouled – leading to the inbound pass to Gallenberger and the three-point jumper from in front of the Rams’ bench to end the half.

Gallenberger led the Tigers’ offense with 16 points. Gallenberger and Reineman grabbed a teamhigh six rebounds each. Reinemann and Rautmann led in steals with three each.

“After a couple of easy layups early we were impatient in the first half. We put ourselves in bad spots at times. The officials let the teams play and we weren’t expecting it,” said Worth.

In the second half we were ready for the physical play. We moved better and our energy picked up.

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