INMAN — When Canton-Galva’s boys played Inman back in January, it was one of the most forgettable nights of C-G coach Shane Duncan’s career.
His Eagles were blown out by 36 points for the low-water mark of the season and managed a meager 22 points.
Amazingly, it was a turnaround of historic proportions. The Eagles led Tuesday’s Class 2A sub-state opening game with the Teutons for all but 2 minutes as they pulled off the 53-47 road victory in a matchup of 10-10 teams.
It was a teeth-puller of a first half as the Eagles had slogged to a 17-11 lead as both teams struggled both shooting and handling the ball.
“We came in at half and knew with them having only 11 points that was not going to happen in the second half,” said Duncan, whose team advances to Friday’s 6 p.m. semifinal game against top-seed Berean Academy. “They’re too athletic, they’re good of shooters and they’re too good in transition. And we were prepared. We knew they were going to go on a run.”
But not before the Eagles did first. C-G came out firing in the third quarter with an 11-3 sizz to open up a 14-point lead, 28-14, but the Teutons finally started to hit the mark. Behind freshman Payton Froese, who had nine points in the third quarter after a scoreless first half, the Teutons trailed just 29-27 going into the fourth period, not to mention they were riding the emotional wave.
The Eagles, though, hung tough. They made their first five shots of the fourth quarter to maintain the lead, though they were having trouble with the Teutons’ pressure. A key turn of events came with 2:39 left when Inman coach Brett Froese was hit with a technical, resulting in two Travis Unruh free throws, followed by a Zach Snow basket to push the lead to six. C-G was nails at the line late, making its final six attempts and 10 of 11 in the quarter.
“Just credit the kids for being able to weather that storm,” Duncan said. “We really did a fantastic job of closing at the free throw line tonight.”
C-G’s Clayton Sargent came off the bench to score eight fourth-quarter points, while Snow and Ethan Dailey led for the game with 11.
“He is our energy guy,” Duncan said of Sargent. “He’s the guy who comes off the bench for us and provides a spark. His offensive rebound of the one missed free throw we had in the fourth quarter was big for us.”
Froese and Mason Thiessen were both scoreless during the nightmarish first half, but scored 17 and 12, respectively, in the second half. Keaton Case had 11 as the Teutons have a bright future with just one senior on their roster.
“I thought our young guys were really tight,” said Brett Froese, who starts all underclassmen including the freshmen Froese and Thiessen. “They were super tight. But we might have been able to get over the hump if not for that technical foul. That was stupid. It was just the wrong time. I thought we really had something going there. But give them credit. They hit some big shots.”