SUMNER — S-E-M surged to a seven-point lead early in the fourth quarter and held on to beat No. 10-raniked Sandhills Valley 55-49 Tuesday night in Sumner, taking down the last unbeaten team in Class D1.
The Mustangs made 7 of 8 free throws in the final minutes to preserve the victory and improve to 7-1.
“This is a big one for us. We started off a little sluggish (this season) but to beat these guys, I think we’re kind of on a streak here now. Hopefully we can keep it going, but we have a lot of tough teams to play,” S-E-M coach Darby Line said.
The Mustangs led most of the game, getting a jump start from guard Noah Eggleston, who had eight points in the first quarter. He would finish with 13, scoring the rest of his points in the fourth quarter.
Tucker Whitesel, who led the Mustangs with 16 points, scored five of his in the first quarter, making one of three 3-pointers S-E-M hit to take an 18-12 lead.
The Mavericks (8-1) countered by scoring on second-chance points.
“They do a great job of crashing boards and getting second shots and we didn’t do a real great job of checking out on a couple of their better players,” Line said. “But we played great defense again. ... We just need to learn check out a little bit better make sure they don’t get second shots.”
Cole Kramer, a 6-4 junior, led Sandhills Valley with 10 points, most of which came in the second half. Ethan Nicholson, a 6-3 senior, had 18 points with all but five coming in the first half. Kramer’s performance helped the Mavericks take the lead briefly in the third quarter.
S-E-M answered with five points each from Whitesel and Kellen Eggleston, who finished with 10 points.
In the fourth quarter, Ryan Arbuthnot put all six of his points on the board, making 4 of 4 free throws.
“It was a heck of a run and it was brought on with good defense. We got our hands in the passing lanes about three or four times and got a couple layups,” Line said. “I think (Kramer) is one of the better players in the state in D1 and I think defensively we got up in his face and played pretty hard.
“I was proud of our guys for this defensive effort. We didn’t shoot the ball as well as we can but defensively we bailed ourselves out a few times.”