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Holiday Basketball Classic: Waseca’s second-half surge hands Winona 81-59 loss

December 30, 2018

The Winona Senior High School boys basketball team came out with high energy in the first half on Saturday, but Waseca came out of the locker room with even more after halftime.

Waseca bolted to a 20-3 run in the first 5 minutes, 15 seconds of the second half — it forced five Winona (4-4) turnovers on its first seven possessions — and that helped the Bluejays (9-0) to an 81-59 nonconference victory in the final game of the Lewiston Auto Holiday Basketball Classic at Winona State’s McCown Gymnasium.

The score was 39-33 in favor of the Bluejays at the half, but two 3-pointers, a layup and a dunk — including seven points in that run from sophomore Kyreese Willingham — gave the Bluejays enough separation in front of about 800 fans.

“That put us down, but what I told them in terms of facing adversity, we have to fix that,” Winhawks coach Kyle Martin said. “We’ve got to be able to go down 10-0 on a run and finish that.

“Waseca is a great team. They’ve got great height, great energy. When they had great energy, ours kind of went away.”

Forcing turnovers was a big key, according to Bluejays coach Seth Anderson, and Waseca did just that in forcing 23 by Winona.

“I think we came away with the first three 50-50 balls that led to some breakouts and easy layups, and that type of stuff leads to your team having energy,” Anderson said. “Every time your team is starting to have some success, the kids keep playing harder and harder, and that’s what led to that big run.”

Malik Willingham led the Bluejays with 25 points, and Kyreese Williingham had 16. Malik hit four 3-pointers.

Even though the second half didn’t go as planned, Martin liked the intensity of his team in the first 18 minutes.

Whenever it seemed like Waseca was going to pull away early, the Winhawks had an answer. Winona trailed by 10 points with 5:38 remaining in the first half, but crept back to within three.

“They’re really athletic and they’re really well-coached,” Anderson said of Winona. “They didn’t shoot the ball as well as they normally do, and that would’ve really helped them in some of those stretches. That could’ve easily have been us.”

Anderson liked how Winona’s offense is patient and balanced. The WInhawks had 11 different players score.

Brad Winter, who led Winona on Saturday with 21 points, had seven of them to pull the Winhawks back to a 30-27 game.

Winter scored 15 of his points in the first half, including his lone 3-pointer of the night with 3:12 remaining in the first half.

“Brad is the type of guy who will pull the team together,” Martin said. “He’s one of our leaders.”

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