Storm crank up defense on Hudson, Riverside

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When it needed to the most, the Storm defense held strong, and sent upset-minded

Riverside back home with a 44-41 loss Thursday night in Polk.
The win improves No. 1 High Plains to 19-0 on the season, and the fans certainly got what they paid for.
After trailing 24-20 at halftime, and 29-22 midway through the third quarter, High Plains went on an 8-0 run thanks to all-state point guard Cole Klingsporn and Co.
Senior forward and annual beast on the boards, Cale Harless, started the run with a turn-around post-up bucket in the paint. He finished with a double-double on the night with 12 points and 15 rebounds. He recorded three blocks, too.
Klingsporn hit a triple on the next possession, and then hit a second after sophomore teammate Thomas Young forced a Chargers’ travel violation with 2:51 left in the third quarter.
Young was everywhere for coach Cameron Hudson’s team, who held a 34-33 lead at the start of the fourth quarter.
“I just told the team in the locker room that the biggest contributions were not the point totals,” Hudson said after the win. “They were kids that did other things. He (Young) had so many tips and steals and tie-ups. Those are game-changing plays where you won’t put in a box score, but I told them that’s what championship basketball teams have to do.”
But Riverside didn’t go quietly into the night. Specifically, Chargers' stud, Tanner Hudson.
Hudson, who is no relation to Storm’ coach Cameron, leads the state in points, averaging 24.1 ppg, per
Hudson had it going on all night. Riverside’s coaching staff had him coming off all sorts of motions and screens. When he got a sliver of open space, the 6-4 junior let loose, draining shots from all three areas of the court -- painted-area, mid-range and 3-point shots.
He scored 19 of his team’s 22 first-half points, and looking very comfortable doing it.
He scored the opening bucket of the fourth quarter, then another to give the Chargers a 39-34 lead with 6:13 left in the game.
Klingsporn again answered the bell, hitting another triple to cut the deficit to two points.
Young, who aggressively drove to the basket on the next possession, drew a foul and sank both foul shots to tie the game at 39 with 3:49 left.
But it wasn’t the scoring that won the game, it was the stingy defense of the Storm.
Individuals such as Young, Harless and juniors Josh DeMers and Kyler VanHousen were defending like maniacs, utilizing quick feet that allowed them to stay in front of their man nearly every possession in crunch time.
Young even drew a charge, much to the dislike of the Riverside contingent.
Riverside took the stalling approach in the waning moments of the game, hoping to preserve its lead until time ran out.
But for that scheme to work, you need to possess the ball and make sharp, accurate passes. The Chargers failed in that department, allowing Young to get his hand on a few passes resulting in steals and key possessions for the Storm.
Hudson tied the game again at 41 with a smooth layup in a very crowded lane, but Klingsporn drew another foul next time down the court, and sank one free throw with 45 seconds left to give the Storm a 42-41 lead.
As the Chargers waited for the clock to tick down for one last shot, Hudson forced up a very early -- and contested -- shot that barely drew iron. Klingsporn grabbed the loose ball with under ten seconds left in the game and hit one free throw.
Young, once again, found his way to the ball and was fouled with three seconds left.
Although he missed both shots, Riverside failed to block out senior forward Jabe Wurtz, who easily hauled down the miss.
Wurtz went 1-2 from the line to give the Storm a 44-41 lead.
The final desperation heave from the Chargers fell short, giving High Plains the win.
“On the defensive end, that’s what won it,” Storm’s Hudson said after the game. “They average over 60 points per game and I never thought it was going to end in the 40’s, but I’m happy it did because that means we played some pretty good defense.”
The Storm hasn’t faced a player of Hudson’s caliber this season, so it wasn’t a surprise that he ‘got his’, scoring a game-leading 32 points
“On thing that he did that we weren’t really used to is he’d come off those little weaves and pull up,” Hudson explained after the game. “And that’s just a different element. You try to challenge him up the line, but then he can get into the lane. He’s a big, strong, tough kid.”
In the fourth quarter, Hudson wasn’t shut down, but did contribute less than he had been thanks to having a smaller, quicker defender face-guard him the entirety of the Charger’s possessions.
The win gave the Storm all it wanted, and at times seemed to be playing too fast for its own good. Outside shots dominated the number of post touches for much of the game, but Hudson said there was never any panic with his team while facing adversity.
“It wasn’t panic, it was more of just settling down,” he said. “I thought that we could get the ball inside every possession and our kids are confident shooters, and they take those shots. I was just telling them don’t settle for that one until you’ve attempted something inside, and it got better as the game went along.”
High Plains, as well as Riverside, are teams that have not practiced lately thanks to the conference tournament and high school snow days.
For players, that can seem like a good thing at times, but their coach obviously wants the reps.
“They’ll tell you they love to just play the games and this is great,” Hudson said of not being able to practice lately, “but the reality is you just have to get in the gym, get shots up and get synced.”
Klingsporn led the team with 16 points while Hudson ended the game with 32.
Harless scored 12 points while Wurtz had seven. Young had six and DeMers had three.
Aside from Harless’ 15 rebounds, four other Storm players had three boards each.
Young led the team with four assists while he and Wurtz were tied for the team lead in steals with three.

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