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ERIE — The Erie Red Devils opened the KSHSAA Class 2A Boys Basketball Sub-State Championships with an uneven victory, taking down the visiting Northeast Vikings here Monday by a score of 54-38.
“We played cleanly and efficiently. Anytime you do that — especially this time of the year — it’s huge,” Erie head coach Wes Leach said.
Leach’s squad was indeed efficient, shooting 45 percent from the field while holding Northeast to a 35 percent clip and forcing 16 turnovers. Erie gave the ball up just six times, all but two coming in the first quarter.
The Red Devils actually started the game in a deficit, as Northeast sandwiched a 3 between a pair of fastbreak layups that had the home team on their heels early.
“We got adjusted,” Leach said. “We took a deep breath, and we just started executing and doing our thing.”
And do their thing they did, as Erie closed out the quarter on a 15-2 run to take a 17-9 lead. The Red Devils continued that momentum to a 30-15 advantage at the intermission.
Northeast tried to fight back in the early goings of the third quarter, dropping in 4-of-5 shots on a 12-2 run.
“They were moving it to the backside, kinda catching us out of position,” Leach said. “And then they were hitting shots, especially in transition.”
Leach could be heard from the coach’s box calling for junior Ethan Dillinger to crash the defensive boards midway through the quarter. The star center had pulled down just three rebounds thus far, before taking stock in his coach’s words and grabbing seven before the final horn.
“That’s my job as a coach to say, ‘Hey, this is what you need to do,’” Leach said. “It’s their job to go out and execute, and he did. He is a big reason why we won, there’s no doubt about it. I’m proud of him for stepping up.”
Dillinger finished with a game-high 26 points to go with his 10 rebounds and four blocks.
While Dillinger was taking back over on the glass, the offense started to fall into place as well. Layups from junior Daniel Choi and sophomore Eli Montee sparked a pair of runs during offensive lulls that keyed the Red Devils to their second half dominance.
“They showed up and fulfilled their piece of the pie,” Leach said. “The pie is a win. It’s up to everyone to bring their piece of the pie, every night.”
Montee finished with four points and three rebounds while Choi provided just the pair to go with three rebounds and an assist.
Senior Logan Ewan posted 12 points and three assists, sophomore Reid Duff added seven points, five rebounds and three assists while senior Gavin Reissig finished with three points.
Northeast was led by double-digit performances from Dawson Troth and Brenden Alters, who scored 13 and 12.
The Red Devils (13-8) will now welcome the St. Mary’s-Colgan Panthers (9-11) to Erie on Thursday for the KSHSAA Class 2A Sub-State semifinals. Monday evening saw the seventh-seeded Panthers pull an upset on second-seeded Jayhawk-Linn via a 64-32 score.
“We’re gonna have to play well, and I think we’re playing the best basketball we possibly can right now, bottom line,” Leach said. “When you’re playing your best of the year at this point in time, that’s when it’s most important.”
Northeast: 9 6 14 10 — 38
Erie: 17 13 10 14 — 54
Northeast: Dawson Troth 13, Brenden Alters 12, Blake Goodwin 6, Braden Young 4, Jonah Sparks 4
Erie: Ethan Dillinger 26, Logan Ewan 12, Reid Duff 7, Eli Montee 4, Gavin Reissig 3, Daniel Choi 2
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