SIOUX CITY -- The Gehlen Jays powered up their offense for a 74-64 win over conference rival Hinton in the boys' matchup in the CNOS Basketball Classic at the Tyson Events Center Friday.
"It was a good offensive night for us. The kids played well for most of the night," Gehlen boys coach Mike Langel said. "It's a fun place to play and we enjoy the atmosphere."
Senior Michael Whitehead caught fire and led the Jays with a 28-point performance Friday.
"Michael can get on a roll, and when he gets on a roll he's a handful to stop," Langel said. "He went 10-of-14 on two-pointers. That's pretty good shooting."
Whitehead was also 1-of-2 beyond the arc and 7-of-12 from the free throw line against the Blackhawks.
Gehlen took the early lead Friday, going 13-9 into the second quarter.
"Both teams started out a little slow. It took a little to get everyone going," Langel said. "Then we made a pretty good run at them, got out to that 10 or 15 point lead and held it there."
The Jays found the basket in the second quarter for 24 more points before the half. Hinton scored 15 more, making the score 37-24, Gehlen, going into halftime.
The boys were nearly basket-for-basket in the third quarter, allowing the Jays to hold onto a 15-point lead going into the final quarter.
Hinton made a run at it in the fourth quarter, closing Gehlen's lead to six points with a group of treys, including several from Jason Vander Kooi.
Gehlen's Alex Kellen scored on a dunk but was called on a technical for hanging on the rim, then the Blackhawks forced a few Jay turnovers in a row.
"I thought we didn't finish the game like we would have liked it. We kind of just shut down halfway through the fourth quarter," Langel said. "We should have pushed that lead out as much as you can. Vander Kooi got hot in that fourth quarter. He had a heck of a fourth quarter and hit those threes."
Although Hinton made it a tight game, Gehlen hit enough free throws down the stretch to secure the win for the Jays.
"They put us on the line and we stepped up and for the most part hit enough free throws," Langel said.
The Jays were 22-for-35 from the charity stripe and they shot 27-of-51 from the field.
Along with Whitehead's 28 points, Gehlen junior Blake Wiltgen had a double-double night with 14 points and 11 rebounds. He also had four assists and three steals against Hinton.
Gehlen junior Colton Kneip scored 10 points and grabbed eight boards.
For the Blackhawks, Vander Kooi was shooting well with 22 points for the night including three from beyond the arc to lead his team. Vander Kooi pulled down six boards.
Hinton senior Drew Schiltz was also in double figures for the night, scoring 10 points. Senior Grady Farrer led in rebounds for the Blackhawks with seven, and senior Morgan Wenzel had three assists for the night.
Langel said the Jays would have liked to keep Hinton in the 50-point range, but were still happy to take a War Eagle Conference win, keeping Gehlen undefeated in the conference at 6-0.
The Jays are aiming to repeat their 2011-12 triumph as conference champions with a 10-0 season record last year, Langel said.
They'll have to oust Unity Christian and come back from their two losses to beat MMC and Remsen-Union to secure that undefeated WEC record, he noted.