WELLINGTON — Crest Ridge fought off Wellington-Napoleon 65-53 on Saturday, Jan. 25, to remain unbeaten.
“I thought we looked kind of lethargic in the first half,” Crest Ridge coach Brent Behler said. “Then we started to pick up a little bit in the second half and a win is a win and that’s three in a week, which is tough to do.”
August Hoeper led the Cougars in the opening moments of the contest, scoring eight of his 20 points to keep Crest Ridge as the Tigers clawed out to a 14-12 lead.
The junior has gone over 20 points in three of the last four games for Crest Ridge
“He has just been playing really well,” Behler said. “He is physical. He has a good first step and he can attack really well. He is starting to put that together and teams are letting him do that because they are hogging up on Cole (Schmidli).”
Wellington-Napoleon staked out its largest lead of the game at 25-21 with a corner 3-pointer by Brady Hughes, who went for 18 points.
Crest Ridge (16-0, 3-0 I-70) responded with a 9-5 run to end the half.
“It felt like every time we were getting a tip that we’d get steals off of earlier in the year from other teams, they were falling in their hands and we weren’t getting those loose balls,” Behler said.
Jayden Ring scored his lone points of the afternoon just before the halftime buzzer to send Crest Ridge into the locker room with a 30-30 tie.
Schdmidli knocked down a pair of 3-pointers out the break, helping the Cougars pull ahead to a 40-37 lead.
Wellington-Napoleon found ways to match Crest Ridge bucket for bucket in the second half, keeping within striking distance at 48-44.
“I thought we played good defense in the second half,” Behler said. “We can do better, I feel like we gave up too many second chance points.”
Crest Ridge put the game away in the final three minutes of the contest, finishing the game by outscoring the Tigers 9-2 in the final three minutes, 15 seconds.
The Cougars held Wellington to just nine points in the final frame.
Schmidli led Crest Ridge with 21 points while Jax Brandes added 11 with six points coming in the fourth quarter.
Crest Ridge opens the Quarry City Classic on Tuesday, Jan. 28, as No. 1 seed and host of the tournament. The Cougars will face No. 8 seed Holden at 4:30 p.m.