The Hastings Raiders boys' basketball team continued to play some of its best ball of the season last week as they won their second game in a row over Henry Sibley at home on Coaches vs. Cancer Night. The Raiders beat the Warriors 81-72 in a game that did not seem that close to get back to .500 on the season (8-8) and 5-3 in the Metro East Conference, which puts them in sole possession of fourth place and just a half game out of second.

Coaches vs. Cancer

The theme of Coaches vs. Cancer night was "Who Do You Play For"? Players and coaches on both teams played in honor of a family member or friend whose life has been touched by cancer, and they asked those in the crowd to do the same. Free pizza was given to students who attended the game, and prizes were drawn for leading up to the game and during halftime. A ceremony involving the crowd and both teams was conducted at halftime.

Donations were also taken to help Joan Olson, the mother of Raiders assistant coach Paul Olson, and her family. Joan was diagnosed with multiple myeloma last spring and continues to battle the disease. Joan and her husband, Jeff, have three sons: Paul, Karl and Erik. Paul teaches math at Hastings High School and has been an assistant basketball coach for the last eight years. A total of about $1,200 was raised to help the Olson family with help from the Hastings basketball boosters.

The game

On such a night it's appropriate that basketball take a back seat, but the game still had to be played. Both teams came out with good pace and immediately began to take advantage of their strengths. Hastings pushed the tempo for much of the game through point guards Grant Hollar and Devon Haraldson to attack the basket and create opportunities for teammates.

Meanwhile, Henry Sibley played through their big man, the 6-foot-3 Malik Spearman, who used his strength and finishing ability to score down low and rebound.

The Raiders struggled to contain Spearman the entire game (he finished with 40 points, out of his team's 72) and junior Isaac Rabaey going down with an injury after continuing his strong play did not help.

However, Hastings was able to slow down Spearman and the Warriors' offense just enough to lead 39-32 at halftime.

In the second half the Raiders were able to shut down the rest of Henry Sibley's offense except Spearman, but alone he could not keep up as Hastings got hot from three-point range.

Junior forward Matt Schlottman made five of his seven three-pointers in the second half to help the Raiders build and maintain a lead for the rest of the half. While Henry Sibley was able to make a small run at the end of the game, the nine point differential was not indicative of the gap that widened in the second half.

Schlottman led Hastings with 23 points, followed by Hollar who added 14 on drives to the basket. Haraldson continued his consistent play with 12 points, and Levos was steady on the wing with 10. A total of eight Raiders scored for the game.

Hastings hosted New Prague on Tuesday, Jan. 30, and then Simley on Friday, Feb. 2.