WABASSO - For the second game in a row the Wabasso Rabbits boys' basketball team battled back from a double-digit second-half deficit. And for the the second consecutive game the Rabbits fell short, losing to the Canby Lancers 68-62 Monday night in Wabasso.
A seven-minute scoring drought by the Rabbits to start the second half, coupled with sharp shooting by the Lancers, turned a 32-29 Canby halftime lead into a 46-29 lead for the visitors.
"I said at the beginning of the game that it was going to be a game of runs and we just have to make sure that we have ours at the right time," Canby head coach Jon Hanson said. "The start of the second half we had a great run. That's probably as good as we can play, as good as we can shoot, but then there was a seven minute period after that where we couldn't do much right and they got on a run."
Photo by Travis Andries
Canby junior point guard Michael Slaba, left, dribbles up the court while Wabasso guard Neil Eichten gets into position on defense during Monday’s non-conference game at Wabasso High School.
A pair of three-pointers from Cole Brusven started the 14-0 run for Canby to open the second half. Michael Slaba would knock down a three of his own, while converting an easy layup on a fast break. Michael Sisk also scored on a layup, but his two points were the Lancers' last before a Rabbit rally in response.
Four Lancers finished in double figures scoring, led by Sisk's 18. The Canby starting center also had eight rebounds. Brusven was second on the team with 15 points, while he and Nate Stafki (13 points) made six of the team's seven 3-pointers. Slaba finished with 10 points.
Tanner Bock broke the second-half slump for Wabasso as he kissed a shot off the glass for two of his 10 points on the night. The bucket with 10 minutes, 40 seconds remaining in the game was the first basket of any kind for Wabasso in the second half.
Michael Slaba 2 5-7 10, Michael Sisk 7 4-7 18, Cole Brusven 6 0-0 15, Nate Stafki 4 2-2 13, Kristian Leppke 4 0-1 8, Zach Nuy 1 0-0 2, Josh Gallegos 1 0-0 2, Kyle Devos 0 0-2 0. Totals 25 11-19 68. 3-pointers 7 (Stafki 3, Brusven 3) Rebounds 25 (Sisk 8) Assists 15 (Slaba 5) Steals 12 (Stafki 4) Blocks 5 Turnovers 19 Total Fouls 21.
Neil Eichten 11 6-7 32, Tanner Bock 2 6-11 10, Scott Jenniges 3 0-0 8, Seth Guetter 1 0-0 2, Matt Zeug 3 2-4 8, Beau Taylor 1 0-0 2. Totals 21 14-22 62. 3-pointers 6 (Eichten 4) Rebounds 32 (Bock 13) Assists 7 (Guetter 2, Bock 2) Steals 11 (Guetter 4) Blocks 1 (Zeug) Turnovers 19 Total Fouls 16.
Halftime Score: Canby 32, Wabasso 29
Over the next nine minutes, however, the Rabbits outscored the Lancers 28-14 to return the game to its halftime margin as Neil Eichten sank one of his four 3-pointers on the night to make the score 60-57 with 1:19 remaining.
Eichten, who had a game-high 32 points, and Bock made tough shots and free throws alike in leading the Rabbits back into the game. Bock, who had 13 rebounds to go with 10 points for a double-double, emerged as a force down low for the Rabbits, an option that had been missing for most of the game for Wabasso.
"We started to go inside a little bit and the turnovers quit," Wabasso head coach Josh Hadley said of the keys to his team's rally. "I would say once your inside game gets going, it leads to better shots on the outside. Then our outside shots started going in. It's not because of lack of effort with these kids. They played hard, they don't give up. We've shown that the last two nights."
After Eichten's 3, Sisk sank both free throws on a one-and-one to extend the Lancer lead to five with 48 seconds remaining. The Rabbits were forced to foul after a miss and Lancer rebound on the other end with 20 seconds to go, but unfortunately for Wabasso Matt Zeug was called for a flagrant foul.
Slaba hit both free throws for the flagrant then was fouled again two seconds later. Two more successful free throws and the Lancers led by nine with 18 seconds remaining in the game.
Despite Neil Eichten making three free throws after a hard Brusven foul with 12 seconds left, the clock and lead had conspired against the Rabbits who drop to 0-2 overall with the loss.
"We had 19 turnovers tonight," Hadley said. "That's 19 times we don't get a shot. I think sometimes we get a little bit ahead of ourselves. We rush and panic sometimes. A lot of our turnovers were unforced. I don't think they were over-pressuring us, we just sometimes dribbled it off of our leg on our own."
For the Lancers (1-0 overall), the win in their season debut was not without its ups and downs.
"Start of the first half we did a very poor job of (boxing out)," Hanson said. "I thought we got a lot better as the game went on. (We used) our hands way too much, too many fouls. It's the first game. I know they've got jitters, I know they're excited. But obviously we got a lot to work on, but to come over here and get a win like that is good for us, a good start."
The Rabbits are back on the court Friday as they open Tomahawk Conference play with a road game at New Ulm Cathedral, whereas the Lancers return to action with a road trip to Ivanhoe to open their Camden Conference schedule against Lincoln HI Friday.