SIOUX CITY | A couple of guys who a year ago were high school teammates are not playing like collegiate freshmen at Morningside.
Zach Imig and Trey Brown, who led Gretna to two Nebraska Class B state championships, have made a smooth transition to the next level. The two combined for 35 points for the streaking Mustangs, who routed Hastings 95-65 Wednesday at the Rosen-Verdoorn Sports Center.
Imig, a 6-foot-3 guard, scored a career-high 20 points while the 6-6 Brown came off the bench to contribute 15 points and a team-high seven rebounds for the Great Plains Athletic Conference co-leaders.
Ninth-ranked Morningside (19-5) remained perfect in nine home appearances this season and moved to 11-3 in the GPAC, tied with Briar Cliff. The Mustangs snapped a six-game losing streak against Briar Cliff last Saturday.
“The win Saturday was huge for us but we just had to keep moving forward,” Imig said. “Those days of practice weren't recovery days, we had to keep getting better because every game is a big game. This conference is very talented and every night any given team can win so we just had to keep moving forward and bringing that momentum to the next game.”
Hastings (16-9, 6-7) had won seven of its last nine games, ending eight-game winning streaks for Northwestern and Briar Cliff while downing Dakota Wesleyan on the road in its last outing.
The Broncos appeared to set their defensive sights on stopping Morningside from the 3-point arc and the Mustangs took advantage of that early. They scored on a number of drives to the baskets and had a 15-4 lead after the first six minutes and a 28-10 cushion at the midway point of the first half.
“Our big guys weren't scoring a lot in the paint early on but our perimeters were,” Morningside Coach Jim Sykes said. “We got some easy buckets that way and didn't have to rely on the 3-point shot. We wanted to get things going in transition, we wanted to run up and down and get them tired because they are a bigger, more physical team. If we could force them to play our game we felt that would be an advantage.
“We knew they would come in here with guns a blastin', three of their last four wins have come against top 20 teams in the GPAC and we didn't want to be the fourth. We couldn't have any hangover from Saturday, we had to take care of business.”
Morningside opened up a 49-31 halftime lead and wound up shooting 56.1 percent from the field. The Mustangs are one of the top shooting teams in the country with a season mark of 51.3 percent.
Four of five starters reached double figures. Brody Egger scored 12 points, while Alex Borchers and Matthew Hahn added 10 points each. Tyler Borchers tallied nine points but played only 10 minutes because of a balky back.
However, the luxury of having a backup like the burly Brown is a big advantage for Morningside.
“You can tell they have played together before, they know where each other is at on the floor,” Sykes said. “Trey and Zach have played a lot of minutes together and we're looking forward to a lot more.”
Drew Callaghan finished with 16 points and Bart Hiscock 15 for Hastings, which trailed from start to finish.
The Broncos, though, won't have to wait long for a rematch, hosting Morningside on Saturday.