- Special Sections
As the LaMoure/Litchville-Marion boys basketball team worked its offense in the first half of Monday's 56-54 win over Maple Valley, the final result seemed relatively simple.
Pass the ball, set a few picks, wait for a defender to fall off his cover, then take advantage of the hole with a quick cut into the lane for a layup.
"That happens when the offense is moving like its supposed to be," LLM coach Darren Thielges said. "The first half, we were fresh, so we were making good cuts."
It was an offense that led to numerous high-percentage looks for the Loboes, who rode the offense to 40 points in the first half.
All 40 were points that made the difference later as Maple Valley rallied back from a 40-25 halftime deficit to get the game within four points entering the final quarter and narrowly missed a chance to win it.
It was the result of a Raider defense that limited the Loboes to only 16 points the rest of the game, eight of those on free throws.
"I felt they outworked us in the first half," Maple Valley coach Jay Kocka said. "We didn't change anything in the second half, we went to some zone, but our guys responded and were where they were supposed to be, and played team defense."
Rather than allowing easy scoring opportunities for Brady Thielges, who had 18 first-half points, and Anthony Olson, who had 10 in the first half, the Raiders forced turnovers and got points from James Richman and Jordan Haseleu to get back in it.
The second half started on a quick pace, with Richman hitting two layups and Brady Behm connecting on a mid-ranger jumper to cut the lead to 40-31 with 6:55 left.
Olson got points back for LLM, hitting a short jumper with 5:17 left in the quarter, but Richman and Haseleu continued scoring points, narrowing the lead to 42-37 before Olson scored three more points.
Haseleu and Richman each connected on one more shot to trail LLM 45-41 entering the final quarter.
But in the fourth quarter, Maple Valley's shooters went cold, which allowed LLM to up their lead to 47-41, then later to 50-43 on a series of free throws, and eventually 54-45 as the Loboes drew fouls, forcing Richman to leave the game after his fifth.
But with just over a minute left, Haseleu took things into his hands and kept it from getting out of reach.
He hit a layup with 1:06 left in the game and hit the plus-one free throw after a foul on the play to make it 54-48.
The Raiders pressured the Loboes on the inbounds, which caused a bad pass under the basket that gave Maple Valley the ball back. The inbounds for Maple Valley set up Haseleu for a 3-pointer to make it 54-51 with 51.7 left to play.
After missed shots by both teams, LLM's Jared Miklejohn went to the free-throw line with 13.2 seconds, hitting one to make it 55-51, but Haseleu again found a 3-point play on the other end, hitting a layup and a free throw to make it 55-54 with 5. 9 seconds left.
The Raiders got a quick foul, sending Miklejohn to the line with 5.3 seconds left. He hit the first, but missed the second as Maple Valley struggled to get the rebound as time expired.
Early in the game, however, it was all LLM.
The Raiders scored the first points on a layup by Richman that resulted in a 3-point play. But after that, LLM scored eight of the next 10 points to go up 8-5 behind a group effort from Miklejohn, Olson and Thielges.
The quarter closed out on a series of shots by Drew Thielges to give LLM a 17-12 lead.
Brady Thielges then opened the second half with a series of 3-pointers, complemented by layups from Olson.
The Raiders struggled late, scoring only four points in the final four minutes of the half to trail 40-25 at halftime.
Brady Thielges led LLM with 22 points and was followed by Olson with 17. Drew Thielges finished with 10.
Haseleu led Maple Valley with 30 points, including two 3-pointers. Richman had 16 and the the rest of the team had eight combined points.