Cowboys beat Dawson for 1st win

The Custer County District High Cowboys showed the Red Devils of Dawson the door on Friday in Eastern A conference basketball action, notching their first win of the season in commanding form 71-51 behind a season-high 28 points from junior guard Gabe Gundlach. 

The first two minutes of the game were left to the defense until a steal from junior guard Kaden Stradley found senior Tyler Burk on the breakaway for the first score of the game. The Cowboys didn’t look back, leading 13-5 at the end of the first quarter.

Dawson brought their offense in the second quarter, outscoring the Cowboys 14-10, but it was the defensive hustle of Stradley and the offensive execution from Gundlach, who put in 14 points in the first half, that kept the Cowboys on top. 

The Red Devils went on a four-basket run to start the second half until senior forward Kelly Irion dropped in a six-footer from the middle for Custer County. Stradley’s defense was again a factor until he drew his third and then quickly his fourth fouls. 

Gundlach and Burk’s tag-team offense set the Cowboys up for 19 in the quarter, and the Cowboys took a 52-33 lead on a buzzer-beating three-pointer from Gundlach into the fourth.

Gundlach hit four-of-four from the charity stripe late in the fourth quarter, and senior Braden Marum came off the bench to drop in two. Stradley found himself with five fouls and sophomore forward Steven Ray joined him on the bench, also hitting five fouls, with just over three minutes left in the game.  

Dawson dropped in 18 points against the Cowboy’s 19 in the final quarter, and with the large and loud crowd behind them, the Cowboys hit the game-ending buzzer with 20 points to spare. 

Sophomore guard Clay Prell added a pair of three-pointers in the second half, and Irion hit a season-high 13 points. 

“Our goal was to get four guys in double figures tonight,” said Cowboys head coach Houston Finn. The Cowboys had three: Gundlach’s 28, Irion’s 13, and Burk’s 11. “We want guys being threats. We got three tonight, and we did some good things.”

“For us right now, hopefully [this win] breaks the ice so we can move forward and get some more wins.”

Friday’s win puts the Cowboys at 1-9 overall and 1-4 in the Eastern A, and Dawson’s loss sends them to 0-6 in the Eastern A conference. 

“The big difference was turnovers. We were kind of battling out of a hole the whole night,” said Red Devil head coach Wade Murphy.  “I was pleased with the way we came out in the second half, but we had a bad turnover stretch there. We cut the lead to six, but we had some more turnovers, and they pushed [the score] back.”