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Boys basketball roundup: NLS Wildcats, Paffrath rally for a win

Jan. 2—KERKHOVEN — Grant Paffrath scored a career-best 35 points to help the New London-Spicer boys basketball team to a victory over Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg on Tuesday.

The Wildcats, who have won three straight, overcame a double-figure first-half deficit to defeat KMS 71-65 in the non-conference matchup.

NLS improves to 6-4 and KMS, which has its winning streak snapped at four, falls to 5-3.

"It was a really fun game," Paffrath said. "It was a tough game and it just went back and forth."

Paffrath was a big component in NLS' late first-half surge after KMS once held a 21-7 lead. He scored 10 of his 17 first half points in the closing minutes.

Wildcats' head coach Skip Wright added, "Grant is having a fantastic senior year. He's been a great leader."

NLS' late push cut KMS' lead to 36-34 at halftime.

Paffrath added 18 points in the second half. He scored eight of NLS' final 10 points. Six were free throws. That kept the Wildcats afloat amid a Fighting Saints' comeback attempt.

"He is such a strong kid," KMS head coach Matt Fragodt said of Paffrath. "When you have that athleticism and you're that strong and can shoot from the outside, it's almost impossible to defend.

"He's one of those players you dream to have as a coach. He had a great game tonight and hats off to him."

Paffrath finished 10 of 30 from the field and made 13 of 17 free throws.

NLS also got nine points from senior forward Eli Jacobson and eight more from senior center Will Danielson.

"This team has really shown a lot of strength of character and no quit all year," Wright said of his Wildcats, who are without seniors Mason Delzer and Luke Knudsen. "They really hung together and worked their way back into it.

"We're starting to come around. ... I think the future looks bright."

Three-point shooting fueled KMS' strong start. By the time it was 21-7 with 9 minutes, 19 seconds to go in the first half, sophomore guard Teagen Diederich had made three 3-pointers, senior guard Jared Cortez had a pair and senior guard/forward Carter Auspos added another.

"That might have been one of the best first halves that we have played, defensively and offensively," Fragodt said. "I liked how we got out in transition and got some easy buckets."

KMS only had two scorers in the second half as NLS clawed its way back.

DeAndre Holloway, a senior forward, scored 21 of his 33 points in the second half. Cortez had eight of his 20 points in the final 18 minutes.

"DeAndre kept making big plays," Wright said. "He is quick, long and he's snaky going to the basket. He's a really tough cover and he played well tonight.

"We really put an effort into slowing (DeAndre) down and Cortez. Those are their two leading scorers."

Fragodt liked what he saw in Holloway's game in the second half.

"If he struggled in the first half in the past, he would struggle in the second half," Fragodt said. "This year, he just takes games over and we need that. We need that for our younger team."

KMS plays host to Paynesville for another non-conference game at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Kerkhoven. NLS plays host to Rockford as it returns to Wright County Conference West Division play at 5:30 p.m. Friday.

Gabe Aamot had 22 points, Jackson Yanke added 15 and Caleb Smock scored 11 as Dassel-Cokato beat Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City at Grove City.

Jonas Morrison had 22 points, 13 rebounds and three steals for ACGC. Marcus Forsythe added 21 points and two blocked shots and Kyler Pickle contributed 17 points and 10 assists for the Falcons.

ACGC plays host to Maple Lake in a return to Central Minnesota Conference play at 7 p.m. Thursday at Grove City.

William Penkert had 27 points and Jack Gross had 25 as BOLD beat Benson at Bird Island.

Penkert, a 6-foot-3 junior center, also had nine rebounds. Gross, a 6-5 junior guard, added eigh rebounds, 12 assists and three steals.

Harold Habben led Benson with 25 points and seven rebounds.

Benson travels to Renville to play Renville County West in a non-conference game at 7:30 p.m. Thursday. BOLD faces Gibbon-Fairfax-Winthrop at 7:15 p.m. Thursday at Winthrop.

Sawyer Janssen had 17 points, three assists and two blocked shots to help lead MACCRAY to the victory at Minneota.

Isaac Post added 15 points, seven rebounds, four assists and two steals to the Wolverines' cause. Jordan Warne contributed 12 points and seven rebounds.

MACCRAY next hosts Yellow Medicine East for another Camden Conference game at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Clara City.