HCHS senior Brett Sears (right) draws a foul on Atlantic’s Tyler Moen during Saturday’s first half. Sears made 13-of-17 free throws and scored a career-high 31 points as the Cyclones defeated the Trojans 66-54. (Photos by Mike Oeffner) Cyclone junior Connor Bruck drives past Atlantic senior Jalen Petersen for a basket. HCHS senior Taymon Klinkefus (43) pushes the ball upcourt.

Sears’ late FTs, 31 points lead HCHS over Atlantic

 HARLAN -- Despite leading Harlan Community with an average of 17.3 points per game this season, senior Brett Sears has had his share of struggles at the free throw line, shooting just 50 percent through Friday.
 Sears reversed that trend in a big way Saturday night, knocking down 13-of-17 foul shots and scoring a career-high 31 points as the Cyclones held off Atlantic 66-54 for their third straight win.
 Sears, who missed a pair of free throws late in the third quarter, cashed 11-of-13 attempts in the fourth after the Trojans had cut a 13-point deficit to 49-42 on back-to-back three-pointers by Skyler Handlos.
 Sears tallied 13 of Harlan’s 17 fourth-quarter points - all in the last 3:44 - as HCHS surpassed the .500 mark for the first time since the season opener, improving to 5-4 overall and 3-2 inside the Hawkeye Ten Conference (fourth place).
 “I just tried to get in a rhythm,” Sears said of his charity stripe approach. “Before the game today we came in at 2:00 and I shot free throws for a full 30 minutes, probably... and in the game I just got in a rhythm, tried not to think about it and they were going in for me.”
 The Cyclones led by double digits for much of the game Saturday, using an early 23-8 run to build a 27-13 lead with 5:54 left in the first half. They maintained a 35-20 advantage at halftime and led 49-36 after three quarters.
 Johnathan Monson also scored in double figures for the Cyclones with 11 points while adding nine rebounds and five assists. Senior Jake McLaughlin had eight points and a game-high 12 boards, Blake Goshorn hit a pair of third-quarter treys for six points, Brady Wagner scored five and Connor Bruck had four.
 Tyler Moen led the Trojans with 19 points and three blocked shots. Chase Mullenix, who placed first in Atlantic’s Rollin Dyer Wrestling Tournament earlier in the day, finished with 13 points, five rebounds and four assists.

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