East Central hosted Pine City Tuesday night in an important boys basketball matchup.
Both teams had plenty to play for in this game, a win for Pine City tied them for first in the conference with East central. A win for East Central put them in first place alone. The conference crown has been under Pine City lock and key for years but now the Eagles have a chance to take it.
A sluggish start to the game for both teams but defenses were a strong point. Another talking point was rebounds, both teams had their shot at plenty but controlling the boards was East Central specifically, Jacob Dixon. Any time a ball was in the air he was near and made it a point to get the ball back. The Eagles rallied around that and began to build a lead, soon it was a double digit lead late in the half. But Pine City is still the strong 3 point shooting team we know. They began to find some open shot from beyond the perimeter and capitalized on those opportunities, cutting the deficit down to 3. The Eagles rallied back and lead 34-24 at half.
The 2nd half start with a bang for the Dragons, getting off to a 14-3 run and pulling ahead by one. The game would stay close but hit a sort of scoring lull. The Eagles were able to end the scoreless timeframe and started to put the game away. But once again the Dragons refused to go away easily and shortened their deficit to within a score. But the Pine City foul trouble sent the Eagles to line in which Kyle McDonald hit to put away free throws with seconds left. That sealed the East Central victory 59-54.
The Eagles move to 11-5 on the season and now are on a 9 game win streak. They remain undefeated at 7-0 in the Great River Conference. They'll host Hinckley-Finlayson on Thursday.
Pine City falls to 9-8 on the season and 6-2 in the conference. They'll be in Isle on Thursday to take on Mille Lacs.
Jacob Dixon 18
Nate Zielinski 13
Kyle McDonald 12
Ben Carlin 11
Warren Carlson 5
Luke Wilson 22
Lamont Sydney and AJ Ostensen 9
Isaiah Hasz 5
Ashton Seals 4
Mason Charles 3
Riley Cummings 2