NORTH SIOUX CITY – A concerted focus on the defensive end in the second half carried Dakota Valley to a Dakota XII Conference boys basketball win on Friday night.
The Panthers limited the touches and points of Canton's leading scorer Kayden Verley and came away with a 72-53 victory in front of the home fans.
Verley, a 5-10 sophomore, had 14 of his 19 points in the first half as Canton went into the locker room trailing 44-32. Verley, though, was limited to five points on five shots in the second half.
“He is a special player, great shooter, quick, good ball handler, gets in the lane easily,” said Dakota Valley coach Jason Kleis of Verley. “I don’t think we defended the way we wanted to in the first half, just were too easy on him.
“Halftime speech was all about that, we can’t let that kid beat us he is that important to that team and I thought we locked down and kept him out of the lane a lot more (in the second half).”
Dakota Valley, now 2-1, had four players reach double figures, led by a career-high 22 points from emerging scorer Jack McCabe, a 6-3 senior. McCabe, who had 21 in a season-opening setback to top-ranked (A) Tea Area, has reached double figures in all three games this season.
“We lost about 90 percent of our scoring (from last year), we knew McCabe was always capable of it, but he didn’t have to do a lot of scoring the last few years,” said Kleis. “He’s capable of doing a lot of things, get in the lane, definitely shoot the three, he is developing into the go-to guy.”
McCabe knocked down four of the Panthers' nine 3-pointers in the game while Charlie Cox, a 6-3 junior, had 17 points, freshman Paul Bruns 13 and sophomore Nathan Rice 10.
“That’s the strength of our team (depth), we haven’t had that in the past, that’s something new to us and will utilize that and it will make a difference,” Kleis said.
Dakota Valley, who plays its final pre-Christmas game on Saturday against Woodbury Central, raced to a 22-13 lead at the end of the first quarter as six different players scored in the opening eight minutes.
Christian Beachler, a 6-6 senior, added 11 points and nine rebounds for Canton (1-2) while Wyatt Anderson had 10.
Dakota Valley, considerably smaller, but more athletic that the visiting C-Hawks, posted a wide 44-27 rebounding margin as Jack Graves had nine, Charlie Cox eight and Brennan Moran and Cole Bergmann five apiece.
“Our guys are pretty athletic as a whole,” said Kleis. “We think we're a pretty good rebounding team considering we don’t have a true tower (center) in there.”