WINTHROP Playing an extremely challenging early season schedule, Midland boys basketball coach Dalton Harms knew his team was in ‘must win’ mode then they made their way to Winthrop Friday, Dec. 4, to play host East Buchanan.
“This was a win that we had to get with our schedule starting out the way it does,” said Harms, as his team met the challenge and used a huge second half run to claim a 48-34 victory over the Buccaneers.
“East Buchanan was without a couple of their starters due to injury and we took advantage of that.”
The start was solid for the Eagles (1-1), who led 13-8 after one quarter of play, before the Buccaneers made a move with a big second quarter spurt.
“We came out very flat,” said Harms, as his team trailed 19-17 at the half. “Our effort on defense wasn’t where it needed to be. I think we have a lot of things we’ll need to improve on and this game gave us some looks that we haven’t been able to get all year.”
Midland’s Zain Sauer and Warren Etten took advantage of those looks, sparking a huge Eagle second half rally as the pair scored 22 of the team’s 31 second half points, but it was Iziek Soper who got things going for the Midland offense early in the game.
Soper scored eight first half points as the visitors built their early five-point advantage before the hosts came storming back going on an 11-4 second quarter run to lead by two at the break.
Coming out of the half it was Sauer who started draining long 3-point baskets for the Eagles while Etten added another as Midland went on a 14-7 third quarter spurt to take a 31-26 lead into the final frame.
The Eagles kept it going over the final eight-minute stretch as well as Etten added another trey while Jon Thomsen and Sauer also added field goals and free throws to keep the Buccaneers at bay and cruise to the 14-point victory.
“There’s no excuses this year, everyone is struggling with all the COVID troubles that have wiped out practices and scrimmages,” Harms said. “We have to control the controllable. East Buchanan did a nice job of keying on Iziek, but we just have too many shooters.
“This team has found its identity. We just need to get better defensively and take care of the ball.”
Sauer finished with a game-high 18 points, 12 coming in the second half while Etten added 13 more, 10 coming in the final two quarters.
Soper tallied 12 points while Thomsen chipped in with five more.
Midland opened their 2020-21 campaign hosting top-ranked North Linn Tuesday, Dec. 1, and after hanging with the pre-season favorites to win the 1A state championship through the early moments of the contest, eventually succumbed to a lopsided 90-27 defeat.
“Not much to say here,” Harms said. “We did a nice job of playing our game right away, but we let North Linn control the tempo and once that happened, we were in trouble. They’re the No. 1 team in 1A for a reason.”
Through the first five minutes of play the Eagles trailed just 13-7, but once the Lynx found their rhythm, Midland had a tough time slowing the visitors down.
Etten drilled a pair of first quarter 3-pointers and Soper added two baskets as well as the hosts trailed 21-12 at the first quarter horn. From there on out, scoring points would become increasingly difficult.
North Linn went on a 36-2 second quarter spurt to completely take control of the game leading 57-14 at the half as Sauer tallied Midland’s only basket in the stretch.
Very little changed coming out of the break either as the Lynx led 72-22 at the third quarter horn before both teams emptied their benches over the final eight-minute stretch.
Cale Crist came off that Midland bench to lead the team scoring eight points while Sauer added seven more. Etten finished with six.