John Sutherland

Grand Rapids’ John Sutherland rises up to the basket to score a pair of his game-high 35 points in a 95-73 win over Detroit Lakes Saturday.

The Grand Rapids boys basketball team rolled to a 95-73 win over Detroit Lakes Saturday at home.

The Thunderhawks were led by two big performances from John Sutherland and Stacy Washington who combined for 64 points. Sutherland had 35 points and Washington, 29.

Grand Rapids established its offensive dominance from the onset with Sutherland scoring at the basket on the first three possessions. After back-to-to-back three-pointers from Washington, the Thunderhawks led 12-4.

Eight minutes into the first half, Sutherland scored a pair of baskets, then converted a three-point play to push Grand Rapids’ lead to 29-8.

The lead ballooned to 25 points after Dawson Persons knocked down an outside shot to make it a 43-18 game.

Detroit Lakes battled back and went on a 17-8 run to close the gap to 51-35 at the half.

Grand Rapids coach Dan Elhard said the start to games hasn’t been much of an issue for the Thunderhawks this season, it’s been sustained play throughout remainder of the game. However, improved play recently, including Saturday, has shown the team they can finish games.

“The starts haven’t been a problem,” he said. “We started real well and jumped out to a quick lead.

“We got the ball in a lot of good places. It seems like possibly it had become psychological (earlier this season), but we’ve done a better job the past couple weeks.”

In the second half, Detroit Lakes hung around in the opening minutes. That changed after a stretch of play from David Ellies ended up putting the game out of reach with under 11 minutes to play. Ellies connected on back-to-back threes, then scored on a drive to the basket to extend the Thunderhawks’ lead to 73-49.

“That was a key point for us,” Elhard said. “He came in and provided energy for us and knocked down some shots.”

Ellies finished with 13 points and Dawson Persons added nine. Elhard said those added contributions go a long way in the team having success.  

“I thought Dawson Persons played well, especially in the first half he attacked the basket,” he said. “We’ve got to make (opponents) guard everybody.”

Sutherland and Washington were also aggressive on the boards as Sutherland brought down 14 rebounds and Washington had 11.

Elhard said he’s pleased to see the direction the team is headed as they wrap up the regular season this week. On Friday, Feb. 15 the Thunderhawks beat a tough Proctor team, 49-44, before dropping a close game to Hermantown, 75-72, last Tuesday.

“We beat a strong Proctor team and against Hermantown, who is the No. 2 team in our section, that one we felt got away from us,” he said. “It’s been a strong string of games and hopefully we can build off this.”

With Section 7AAA play around the corner, Elhard said he expects Grand Rapids’ seed to range anywhere from a No. 4 seed to the No. 7 seed.

“It sure looks like there could be some movement (in the section standings),” he said. “Princeton is a lock at No. 1 and North Branch at No. 8. We could end up anywhere between No. 4 and No. 7, but we just have to take care of our business.”

Grand Rapids (7-16) had a key section matchup at Duluth Denfeld Tuesday and closes out the regular season at Virginia Thursday.

Grand Rapids 95, DL 73

DL   35  38 - 73

GR   51  44 - 95

Grand Rapids: Levi Winkels 4, Stacy Washington 29, Dawson Persons 9, Easton Fothergill 2, Derek Erdman 3, John Sutherland 35, David Ellies 13. 3-pointers: Washington 4, Persons, Erdman, Sutherland, Ellies 3.

Detroit Lakes: Sam Spry 1, Drew Markuson 4, Elias Gloege 3, Jacob Bettcher 29, Josh Noll 3, Ben Stearns 13, Zack Oistad 2, Tate Kerzman 8, Nate Cihak 10. 3-pointers: Gloege, Bettcher 4, Noll, Sterns, Kerzman, Cihak 2.

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