By PATRICK SLACK
The Little Falls boys basketball team wasn’t trying to make a statement.
It might have made one anyway.
A year after falling in its season opener against Fergus Falls, the Flyers turned the tables in a big way, lighting up the Otters from beyond the arc and wearing them down in the paint to secure an 80-60 rout to open the season.
“Our goal wasn’t to make a ‘statement,’” Little Falls head coach Kevin Jordan said. “Our goal was to go out and play hard and find out where we were at.”
“We knew Fergus is one of the top three teams in our section and we wanted to compete with them,” he said. “I think we did that. Beating them in March will be even more of a challenge.”
The game went back-and-forth early, with both teams trading leads in the first half.
Little Falls appeared set to go into halftime on top, but Fergus Falls closed with a 7-1 run to take a 38-37 edge into the break.
“The first half was a game of streaks and both teams were pretty focused,” Jordan said. “We found ourselves in foul trouble at the end of the first half.”
“In the second half, our guys played even more aggressive and started drawing fouls on them which took them out of their game a little bit,” he said.
In addition to attacking the lane to get to the free-throw line, where the Flyers made 15-of-20 attempts, Little Falls’ aggressive ball movement led to numerous open looks from the perimeter.
Led by the trio of senior Collin Eckman and juniors Troy Scott and Sebastian Sowada with four apiece, the Flyers sank 15-of-27 three-point attempts, producing more than half of the team’s points.
“Fifteen threes were a result of our team really executing well offensively and having the patience to let the open shots develop,” Jordan said. “We did a good job of making sure we took open shots versus contested shots.” “Fifteen is quite a few to have in a game and I doubt we will shoot like that every game, but who knows,” he said.
Less than five minutes into the second half, the Flyers had sprinted to a double-digit lead, then accelerated to the 20-point margin of victory.
“We did a good job of controlling the tempo of the game after we got the lead back in the second half,” Jordan said.
Troy Scott led Little Falls with 22 points, joined in double figures by Eckman with 19 and Sowada with 14.
Seniors Jake Scott (9) and Spencer Lubbers (7), sophomore Thomas Bell (4), junior Jake Loukinen (2), sophomore Bryce Zawatzke (2) and senior Travis Spillum (1) also provided scoring.
Little Falls returns to the court with a home game against Princeton, Tuesday.
Little Falls 80, Fergus Falls 60
Fergus Falls 38 22 – 60
Little Falls 37 43 – 80
Little Falls—Troy Scott, 22 (3 rebounds); Collin Eckman, 19 (5 assists, 4 rebounds); Sebastian Sowada, 14; Jake Scott, 9; Spencer Lubbers, 7; Thomas Bell, 4; Jake Loukinen, 2; Bryce Zawatzke, 2; Travis Spillum, 1.