Hawley tops Moorhead in boys basketball
MOORHEAD --- Early in the first half of Monday's boys basketball matchup between Moorhead and Hawley, Nuggets coach Nathan Stoa had a question for starting forward Ben Ellefson.
MOORHEAD -- Early in the first half of Monday’s boys basketball matchup between Moorhead and Hawley, Nuggets coach Nathan Stoa had a question for starting forward Ben Ellefson.
“You need a break, No. 14?” Stoa said.
“No,” Ellefson yelled back.
“Then run the floor,” Stoa snapped back.
Ellefson was not tired and the proof was in his 40 points and 10 rebounds that led Hawley by Moorhead 78-68.
“I don’t know how many different times and how many different ways we can say how special of a competitor he is and how special of a kid he is,” Stoa said of Ellefson. “He and I have really connected to where we can communicate and I can get in his ear a little bit. That’s how it gets through to him because he’s so competitive.”
It was Moorhead’s home court. It was Moorhead’s holiday tournament. Hawley wasn’t there to give the Spuds a gift, even with the Nuggets being two classes below Class 4A Moorhead.
“Absolutely not,” Stoa said. “We knew we could come and play. We knew we could come and work hard and defend and hopefully contest enough shots to force them into mid-range jumpers. Our kids are competitors. They weren’t going to back down to anybody.”
Did Ellefson need a break? Even if he did, he wasn’t going to leave the court.
“I wanted to be on the floor,” Ellefson said. “It was one of those situations where you’re playing a 4A school and I wanted to be working hard with my team.”
Hawley opened the game on a 14-4 run behind five different scorers. Moorhead closed the gap to 32-31 at the halftime break, but never led the entire half.
“Coming out ready to go in the first half, instead of waiting until the second half was big,” Ellefson said. “We jumped on them right away.”
Hawley (8-2) opened the second half with a 7-0 run. A Matt Bye jumper for Moorhead (8-3) tied the game at 47-47 midway through the half. Just as Hawley had done with every Spud run, the Nuggets answered, this time with a Jordan Harms’ layup for two of his 15 points.
Moorhead’s Cody Dorow buried a 3-pointer with 3 minutes, 21 seconds remaining in the game to cut the Hawley lead to 63-59. When Ellefson was double-teamed outside the 3-point line on the next possession, he found Dawson Tusow under the basket for the easy layup.
Ellefson scored 19 of Hawley’s last 27 points, but he wasn’t counting. A team manager had to remind him of what his previous career high was for points.
“I think it’s 31,” Ellefson said before the manager reminded him he scored 33 in a game last season. “Thirty-three? Really? OK, let’s go with that.”
A number even Ellefson is keeping track of is the fact Hawley has won eight straight games.
“Hopefully this shows that we can defend anybody,” Ellefson said. “We’re trying to be the best defenders in the conference, in the section and hopefully the state. That’s what we want to be. I think we’re working our way toward that goal.”
Hawley isn’t looking for any gifts in December. The Nuggets want to make their presence in March.
“We have barely scratched the surface of our potential,” Stoa said. “If we play our best basketball by Christmas time, it’s not going to be a very successful year. We can’t sit back and rest on a win like this.”
Half: H 32, M 31
H: Omberg 6, Harms 15, Tusow 6, Ellefson 40, Regnier 10, Steichen 1
M: Steckler 16, Bye 13, Dorow 21, Engen 7, Wiesmann 4, Tonsfeldt 7