Mike Stetson, Sports Information Director
BELLEVUE, Neb. – The Warriors certainly played like a team ready for their much-awaited league opener.
The Waldorf men’s basketball team forged an eight-point edge late in the first half and held the host Bellevue Bruins at bay until the fleeting moments of the teams’ North Star Athletic Association contest, only to see the Bruins rally late and steal an 83-79 victory.
“That was a really well-played game both ways,” Waldorf head coach Nigel Jenkins said. “I felt like both teams competed.
“I really liked our guys focus and execution on the offensive end and the defensive end.”
Down 24-16 themselves midway through the first half, the Warriors (1-7 overall, 0-1 NSAA) took over with a 10-0 run that saw Shaheed Muhammad and Quincy Minor Jr. each splash a 3-pointer in the charge.
Waldorf’s 26-24 lead didn’t last long as both teams traded buckets and advantages back and forth until a Shandon Hicks dunk and a Kesean Warren triple put the Warriors on top 39-35, and in front for the next 20 minutes.
Bellevue (7-9, 1-1) closed to 45-44 down just after the break, and made it a 52-51 game 3 minutes into the final stanza, but Chet Helming answered each threat with a bucket for Waldorf, which looked poised for the victory on top 73-68 after a Minor Jr. 3-ball with 5 minutes to play.
Down the stretch Bellevue took over, though, using an 8-0 run for a lead the Bruins never let get away.
Trailing 76-73, Aaron Sullivan tossed in a deuce for Waldorf, getting the Warriors close, and two Lorenzo Smith free throws and a Minor Jr. layup whittled an 81-75 deficit down to 81-79, but Waldorf got no closer.
“We had some late-game mistakes and breakdowns and it cost us,” Jenkins said.
“I know we came up short but if we can keep this level of intensity and effort throughout the season we will be ok,” Waldorf’s coach added. “We took some steps forward. Consistency will be the key moving forward.”
Minor Jr. led the way for the Warriors with a game-high 27 points in their league opener while also adding four assists and seven rebounds. Smith had nine points, nine boards and four assists, Warren added three points and nine boards, as well, and Sullivan scored 14 for Waldorf, which is back in action Tuesday playing a non-conference game against Bethany in Bellevue’s Fairfield Inn & Suite Bruin Classic.