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Wolves pile on early, win big over Warriors

Jan. 2—Box Score

At Black Hills

WOLVES 58, WARRIORS 33

Rochester 4 4 9 16 — 33

Black Hills20 15 15 8 — 58

Rochester (33) — Rotter 11, Weiss 7, Rodriguez 4, Bruttini 3, Nelson 3, Smith 3, O'Connor 2

Black Hills (58) — Nysted 16, Q. Morrill 12, T. Morrill 9, Morgan 5, Ellison 3, Faught 3, Bell 3, Wimset 3, Beck 2, Cedergreen 2

TUMWATER — Black Hills passed its first test of 2024 with flying colors Tuesday night, as the Wolves shut down Rochester in a 58-33 win.

The win was the Wolves' (5-7, 2-2 2A EvCo) third straight, and they're now back at .500 in league play at 2-2 (5-7 overall).

"We've been improving," Black Hills coach Jeff Gallagher said. "Now we just try and build on that."

Tuesday was Black Hills' best defensive performance of the season, as the Warriors scored just eight points in the first half and 17 points in the first three quarters.

"We're just following our basic defensive principles," Gallagher said. "They're bought in and paying attention to where we're asking them to be."

The Wolves quickly put the game out of reach on the other end, scoring 35 points in the first half to take a massive lead into halftime.

Simon Nysted drilled four 3-pointers in the first half, and Quinton Morrill scored 10 points.

In the second half, Gallagher was able to go deep into his bench, and much to the joy of the Black Hills student section, several players came in and made plays.

Truman Wimsett, Kenny Bell and Peyton Faught all drilled 3-pointers in the second half, and Kendall Roberson also saw significant minutes late.

"It's important for the kids," Gallagher said with a smile. "They practice all the time, and sometimes minutes are hard to come by. Getting them in felt good."

By the end of the game, nine different Wolves had scored, led by Nysted, who scored 16.

While most of the game was bleak for Rochester (1-11, 0-5 2A EvCo), they did find a rhythm in the fourth quarter. Carson Rotter scored seven of his team-high 11 points, and the Warriors scored nearly as many points in the final frame (16) as they did in the first three (17).

Rotter's big fourth quarter was a welcome sign for the Warriors, as he is close to 100 percent after missing a few games with a knee injury.

"We've missed him a lot," Rochester interim head coach Darell Robello said. "Having him starting to come back should help our program tremendously."

It's been a tough couple of weeks for the Warriors, as former coach Gino McDuffy resigned on Dec. 19. Robello and fellow former assistant Cooper McCullough are now leading the team as interim coaches, and their message to the team has been to play together as a team until the final buzzer sounds.

"We're starting from scratch," Robello said. "What I want to see from them is effort and dedication to the program ... We have to continue to get better moving forward."

The Warriors' next test will come on Monday when they welcome Winlock, while the Wolves will look to win their fourth straight on Friday at Tumwater.