HASTINGS — Heartland Lutheran may have started slow in the Class D-1, Subdistrict 6 Tuesday at Hastings St. Cecilia, but the Red Hornets finished strong.
Heartland Lutheran got 20 points from Jon Simonson to help down Harvard 48-41. The win moves the Red Hornets (12-9) into Thursday’s subdistrict final against Shelton.
Heartland Lutheran coach Lloyd Wagnitz said his team was feeling the pressure early.
"I think we put a lot of pressure on ourselves," Wagnitz said. "We only beat them 47-45 the first time we played, and they’ve been playing very well down the stretch. They beat Blue Hill here the other day, so we knew we’d have our hands full."
The Red Hornets hands were more than full in the first half as Harvard (6-17) battled to a 21-18 lead at the half.
"That was about where we wanted to be," Harvard coach Sam Boshart said. "We knew we would have to play tough defense, especially on their three guys. Offensively we knew we had to keep being patient. We thought we had a size advantage down low as long as we could keep Allen (Brand) out of foul trouble."
But Brand got in foul trouble in the second half, and the complexion of the game changed when the 6-foot-3 senior picked up his fourth foul.
"When 34 (Brand) got his fourth foul, that helped us a lot," Wagnitz said. "He’s a load. We did a lot better job running in the second half. The first half he was hooking us a little bit and we had a hard time getting around him. Devin (Tueftle) did a great job there at the end and our backside help was doing well too."
The Red Hornets scored seven straight points in the third quarter to erase a 23-18 Harvard advantage. The Cardinals retook the lead briefly on a 3-pointer by Anthony Cardona, but a 3-pointer by Simonson with 3 minutes, 21 seconds left in the third gave Heartland Lutheran the lead for good.
Hueftle, a 6-3 sophomore, led Heartland Lutheran with 10 rebounds. He also turned two offensive rebounds into baskets to help the Red Hornets extend their lead.
Wagnitz said he stressed to his players the importance of rebounding at the half.
"I told them, ‘You guys can’t rebound the ball standing underneath the basket,"’ Wagnitz said. "I thought we did a lot better job rebounding the second half. We had a lot more determination. The first half was frustrating. We were throwing up the 3s instead of working it inside. We were trying to get them in foul trouble. That’s what we wanted to do."
Trevor Derr led Harvard with 12 points while Cardona and Brand had 10 each. Boshart said the Cardinals just got tired in the second half.
"They hit some shots down the stretch where we came down on offense and we weren’t really getting the shots we wanted," Boshart said. "We weren’t taking shots in our offense. When one team scores, you have to make sure you come down and answer with at least a good shot within your offense."
Heartland Lutheran hasn’t played Shelton this season, but Wagnitz said the Red Hornets want to keep playing.
"We didn’t want to quit now," Wagnitz said. "These guys have been kind of peaking. Last Friday ( a loss to Nebraska Lutheran) was a disappointment, but this will help. They’ll go home and get prepared for Thursday."
Heartland Lutheran 48, Harvard 41
Cardona 4-12 0-1 10, Derr 3-15 5-8 12, Hernandez 0-1 0-2 0, Kalvoda 4-7 1-2 9, Brand 3-4 4-10 10, Alvarez 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 14-39 10-23 41.
HEARTLAND LUTHERAN (12-9)
Ja. Simonson 1-9 2-2 4, Warneke 3-3 0-1 6, Jo. Simonson 2-18 2-2 20, Suchanek 1-5 1-2 3, Hueftle 3-6 3-4 9, Messersmith 3-8 0-2 6, Dreher 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 18-50 8-13 48.
Harvard ............................. 10 11 8 12—41
Heartland Lutheran ........... 10 8 13 17—48
3-point goals — Harvard 3-13 (Cardona 2-6, Derr 1-7). Heartland Lutheran 4-16 (Jo. Simonson 4-9, Suchanek 0-3, Ja. Simonson 0-4). Fouled out — Messersmith. Rebounds — Harvard 31 (Kalvoda 9), Heartland Lutheran 35 (Hueftle 10). Turnovers — Harvard 19, Heartland Lutheran 12. Total fouls — Harvard 13, Heartland Lutheran 16. Technicals — None.
Shelton 61, Red Cloud 52
Shelton controlled the game in the first half, then held off Red Cloud 61-52 in the other semifinal.
The Bulldogs led 28-13 at the half.
"I always say if we execute our game plan, we will be in the game," Shelton coach Matt Walter said. "Tonight in the first half they executed the game plan to a T. We played perfect defense. We rebounded the ball, got some steals and transitioned a little bit."
Walter said the Bulldogs (8-14) tried to be patient in the second half after getting a big lead.
"In games like this where you have that big of a lead, you’re trying to be a little bit more patient," Walter said. "Unfortunately for us, we put them on the line a little too much late. Really that’s when they started to claw back."
Red Cloud (10-9) got back to within seven points at 56-49 with 1:38 left, but could get no closer. The Warriors had beaten the Bulldogs 78-51 on Dec. 20. Walter said his players remembered that game.
"We played these guys the fourth game of the season and they just obliterated us," Walter said. "Our kids wanted another shot at them. We thought we might get them in the conference tournament, but we didn’t."
Senior Spencer Weyers led Shelton with 16 points. Jared Muhlbach had 15, Tayrn Hawks 12 and Darrek Ellis 10.
Walter said the game against Heartland Lutheran will pose match-up problems for both teams.
"We have some big guys, and I think they’ll have a little bit of a hard time matching up with them," Walter said. "But their speed and their shooting ability could hurt us as well. It’s kind of pick your poison. If we can get in there deep, and make the inside shots, they’re going to get the ball and be down on the other end before you have a chance to yell anything out there on the court."
Red Cloud (10-9) ......... 6 7 15 24—52
Shelton (8-14) ............. 13 15 15 18—61
RED CLOUD — Tuckwood 4, Bell 8, Schmitz 4, Brumbaugh 13, Burgess 14, McDole 8, Ellerhoff 1.
SHELTON — Ellis 10, Hawks 12, Weyers 16, Muhlbach 14, Pollard 9.