MORRILL — Morrill’s Blake Lofink tallied 19 points to lead all scorers and propel the Lions to their 10th win of the season after turning back Minatare 60-27 on Friday, Jan. 17 .
With the win, the Lions improved to 10-2 on the season, while Minatare is still searching for its first win after falling to 0-8.
Although pleased with his team’s performance in the win, Morrill head coach Terry Lofink was equally impressed with the tenacity Minatare showed in the contest.
“Kudos to JJ (Ozuna) and those kids. Before I even talk about my team, I’m talking about Minatare’s team,” he said. “Those kids came in and played their hearts out. And Dario Rodriguez, he played his brains out. His leadership was outstanding and you could just tell he was the toughest guy on the floor tonight. He came in here and he wanted to win this game. We got after them the first time we played them this year, but they came ready to play tonight. So, kudos to those guys.”
Despite a sluggish start to the game and trailing by three early, the Lions finally found the scoreboard with 3:30 left to play in the first frame on a 3-pointer from Jackson Margheim to tie the game at 3-3. A trey from Rodriguez soon after was the last points the Indians saw in the quarter as the Lions closed it out on a 10-0 run with six coming from the hand of Blake Lofink to take a 13-6 lead into the second period.
Coach Lofink said the Lions have been struggling with their shots.
“We’ve been struggling to shoot the basketball. There’s no doubt about that,” he said. “I’m the first to admit we are not shooting the ball well. Right now teams are sitting in the zone and giving us lots of issues because we’re having a hard time stretching the floor and making shots.”
Minatare came out firing to start the second, putting together a 5-0 run to start the frame on buckets from Kale Gibbons and Rodriguez, but a pair of free throws from Margheim extended the lead to 15-11. The Indians knotted the score at 16 on a 3-pointer from Fred Torres, but Rowdy Lind answered back a minute later with a trey of his own, sparking another 10-0 run extending into the third period, giving the Lions a 26-16 lead early into the third quarter.
Minatare managed to put down four more points on baskets from Kevin Torres and Joe Gomez, but Morrill ignited for a 16-6 run to close out the period and take a 42-26 lead into the final frame.
Minatare head coach JJ Ozuna was proud of his kids’ effort.
“I thought we played well. We knew it was going to be a tough game,” he said. “There wasn’t going to be anything easy about it and we were going to have to earn everything we got. It’s hard to keep up with a team like Morrill for four quarters and it showed.”
Minatare was paced in the contest by Rodriguez and Fred Torres, who finished with eight points apiece. The Indians finished 2-for-4 from the free throw line.
Blake Lofink was joined in the scoring column by teammates Caden Lewis and Kolten McMackin, who finished with seven points each.
In the girls game, Ilycia Guerue lit up the scoreboard to lead all scorers with 16 points as the Morrill girls raced out to a 43-18 win over Minatare.
Morrill took control early on after jumping out to a 17-3 lead after the first quarter before outscoring the Indians 8-2 in the second to extend its lead to 25-5.
Minatare held the Lions scoreless in the third, but couldn’t capitalize. The Lions had a commanding 25-8 lead heading into the final period.
Minatare got offense from Juana Perez and Raschelle Magdaleno in the fourth, putting up the Indians’ best total of the night with 10 points in the frame, but Morrill proved too much as the Lions cruised to their eighth win.
Head coach Josh Guerue was pleased with the win.
“I was excited with the way we started the game. We started with a lot of intensity, energy, and were moving the ball really well and making things difficult for them on defense. And then we kind of let off the gas there in the third. But to the girls’ credit, they came back and got it done in the fourth.
It shows us what we have to work on. We kind of had the same issues that we’ve been fighting all year long and we have to figure those issues out. We’re getting ready to start our tournament play and our conference play, so we’ve got to be playing good basketball. There’s a lot of good teams out there and you have to be playing really good basketball to be successful right now.”
Minatare was led by Magdaleno and Perez, who finished with nine points each.
Along with Guerue, Libbie Schaefer also broke into double figures with 11 points, while Shandie Hess added six.
Minatare (0-8) 6 10 10 1 — 27
Morrill (10-2) 13 8 21 16 — 60
Joe Gomez 2, Dario Rodriguez 8, Kale Gibbons 4, Fred Torres 8, Kevin Torres 5.
Caden Lewis 7, Blake Lofink 19, Kolten McMackin 7, Michael Johnson 4, Rowdy Lind 6, Cody Johnson 3, Jackson Margheim 5, Isaiah Guerue 2.
Minatare (2-7) 3 2 3 10 — 18
Morrill (8-4) 17 8 0 18 — 43
Raschelle Magdaleno 9, Juana Perez 9.
Shandie Hess 6, Libbie Schaefer 11, Brooke Hopkins 2, Jaiden Steiner 4, Ilycia Guerue 16, Paris Frias 2, Paityn Homan 2.