Cyclones hold off Rams, reach holiday break unbeaten
GLENWOOD (Dec. 21) -- Harlan Community boys basketball coach Mitch Osborn said that 6-0 “was our goal” going into Christmas break, but even he wasn’t sure if that expectation was achievable.
On Saturday night in Glenwood, it became reality.
Despite playing without starting forward Connor Frame, who was out with a stomach ailment, the eighth-ranked (3A) Cyclones held off a late charge by the ninth-ranked Rams and won 72-66 to snap a four-game slide on Glenwood’s home floor.
HCHS let a late seven-point lead turn into a 64-64 tie with 1:41 remaining, but scored the next eight points as Michael Heithoff, Michael Erlemeier and Johnathan Monson combined to make 8-of-10 clutch free throws.
The Cyclones improved to 6-0 overall and 5-0 inside the Hawkeye Ten Conference - tied for first place with 3-0 Lewis Central - while the Rams dropped to 5-2 overall and 3-1 in league play. Harlan’s next game will be January 3 at home vs. 10th-ranked (4A) Council Bluffs Abraham Lincoln (7-0).
“We were short-handed, but our guys stepped up,” Osborn said. “We basically played five guys... Our guys kept their poise and composure. We lost it a little bit there in a little stretch - we had about three things that went against us - but our kids fought through it... It was a great win in a hostile environment.”
Coupled with a thrilling overtime win December 13 vs. Denison-Schleswig, the Cyclones have now avenged two teams that combined to hand them four losses during last year’s 11-9 campaign.
Glenwood hit five three-pointers in the first quarter vs. Harlan’s 2-3 zone but shot a ton of them and finished 9-for-35 from long distance. Because the Cyclones were rebounding well on the defensive end, they turned several long misses into fast break opportunities throughout the game.
Trailing 9-5 early, HCHS outscored the Rams 21-6 over the next few minutes and reached the foul-shooting bonus with :34.5 left in the first period. Glenwood responded by winning the second quarter 21-10 and took a 39-36 lead into halftime.
The third quarter was tightly contested (three lead changes) and ended with a flurry by Cyclone freshman Aidan Hall, who was starting for Frame.
Hall scored inside and then off a steal to put HCHS up 52-47, then opened the fourth with an athletic catch and finish on a fast break lob from Erlemeier. He added a trey moments later to cap a personal 9-3 run and make it 57-50.
The Cyclones’ three starting seniors led a balanced scoring attack, including Connor Bruck’s 19 points and six rebounds on 7-of-9 shooting - mostly from close range on fast breaks and drives to the hoop. Eight days after a 1-for-8 showing at the line, Heithoff knocked down 9-of-13 free throws and finished with 18 points, 11 rebounds and two steals. Monson also had a double-double with 13 points and 10 boards. Erlemeier (4 assists) and Hall both scored 11.
HCHS attempted 26 fewer field goals than the Rams but made up for it by shooting 64 percent and hitting 22-of-30 free throws. The Cyclones outrebounded the Rams 39-25.
Glenwood, which shot only seven free throws (3-of-7), got a combined seven 3-pointers from Nate and Ben Hughes, who scored 14 and nine points, respectively. Palmer and Zach Carr added 11 points each while Sondag and Ryan Blum both had eight.
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