The Warriors showed a determined resolve that prove victorious Saturday afternoon.
The Waldorf men’s basketball kept their game against visiting Dakota State close until a second-half surge gave them a lead they never gave back as the Warriors scored a 68-64 win over the Trojans in North Star Athletic Association action at the Hanson Fieldhouse.
“That was a heck of an effort from our guys,” Waldorf head coach Nigel Jenkins said, as the Warriors shook off a 13-point deficit in the first half.
In the opening half, the visiting Trojans shot 18-of-26 from the field (69.2 percent) which led to a 34-21 lead with 5 ½ minutes left until the break, but the Warriors didn’t break under that offensive onslaught.
Clamping down defensively before the half, the Warriors put together a 9-0 run capped by a Brian Smith fast-break layup, closing to just 34-30 down.
Behind 41-30 at the break, the Warriors (6-16 overall, 2-7 NSAA) kept battling in the second half and closed with a 12-2 run capped by a Melvin Martin 3-pointer to trail just 43-42.
Dakota State (8-17, 3-6) hung on to the lead, though, temporarily staving off the Warriors comeback efforts and eventually going up 58-51 midway through the session before Waldorf put together a decisive charge that put them in front for good.
A Smith 3-ball ignited an 11-0 run that Shay Motter capped with another 3-pointer, putting the Warriors on top 62-58 with 6 minutes left.
From there, Waldorf refused to let Dakota State back in front, battling with a stingy defense that held the Trojans to just 10-of-28 shooting (35.7 percent) in the second half.
“Our defense in the second half was very good,” Jenkins said.
And fittingly, it was defense that won it down the stretch as two Demitrius Martin free throws snapped a 64-64 tie with a minute left, then Waldorf forced two turnovers – including a game-clinching steal by Brady Kuchinka in the final 5 seconds.
Demitrius Martin led the way with 19 points, seven assists and seven rebounds for the Warriors, who maintained a solid offensive rhythm throughout the contest as Waldorf shot 45.5 percent (25-of-55) in the win.
“We shared the ball on offense and we made shots,” Jenkins said, “it was very good balance from everyone. They all contributed at different times during our run.
“I’m very proud of this team win.”
Motter, Smith and Quincy Minor Jr. each added nine points apiece in the win for Waldorf, which is back in action hosting Presentation next Friday at 7:30 p.m.
Justin Folkers led the Trojans with 23 points and 11 rebounds, and Anthony Costello added 13 points and 10 boards for Dakota State.