Western Nebraska Observer - Observations all along the line - Kimball & the Southern Panhandle First

By Dave Faries
Editor 

Kimball Boys Down DCS, Morrill In Tournament Play

 

Vicki Stull

Caleb Reuter shoots over a Morrill defender.

Morrill held the lead in the winner’s bracket game Saturday for 33 seconds. The remaining 31:27 belonged to the Longhorns.

Kimball routed the Lions 57-29 on their way to a 2-0 sweep of their home tournament. Ten different Longhorns put points on the board and head coach Bruce Tjosvold used all 13 varsity players.

“Our bench did a good job,” he said. “I wanted to get those guys time.”

The deep squad received plenty. Jake Reader sat out much of the second half after scoring 18 points. Point guard Zack Rockhold-O’Brien tallied 11 before yielding the floor.

Yet the first period was sluggish. Morrill’s Jorge Lara corralled the opening tip and drove for an almost uncontested lay up. Two minutes in, the Lions’ Talor Lackey hit from six feet out to even things at 4-4.

Caleb Reuter countered with a neat baby hook. But Morrill answered and the next few minutes devolved into a reckless back and forth with neither side able to land a telling blow.

“At first we weren’t getting to the post,” Jordon Berger observed.

With time winding down in the opening period, however, the Longhorns found Reader anchored low. The big junior muscled into the paint on two consecutive possessions. Rockhold-O’Brien followed with a short jumper and the rout was on.

“We settled down after that,” Austin Pile pointed out.

The game had been a sloppy 8-6 affair with 2:30 to go in the first. When the whistle blew, Kimball led 14-6. By halftime, the Longhorns had rolled to a 32-9 advantage.

Reuter opened the second period with a second effort put back. Reader took a sharp pass from Pile to the hoop. He converted another assist moments later, this time from Rockhold-O’Brien, and followed up with a coast to coast drive.

In all, Reader scored 8 points in the second period. Pile added 4 and Reuter, Rockhold-O’Brien and Bernie Bridge knocked down a shot each.

Pile drained a three midway through the third quarter, making the score 42-9.

The Lions finally reached double-digits late in the period after a drought lasting almost seven minutes. But Berger responded immediately, hitting from beyond the arc.

From that point on, the game belonged to Tjosvold’s deep bench.

Henry Heeg, a wrestler last season, notched 4 points and 7 rebounds in the remaining time. Mitchell Shields and Michael Ferguson, the latter recently cleared to play after surgery, each hit from three point range. Nolan Adrian and Enrique Cajero combined for 6 rebounds and John Kurth played tenacious defense at the off guard position.

“We’re going to stay fresh the rest of the season,” Berger said, referring to the team’s rich talent.

 

Kimball 68 - DCS 58

The tourney opener on Friday evening was an entirely different affair.

Although the Longhorns claimed a 68-58 victory over Dundy County-Stratton, the visitors held a convincing 8 point advantage early in the third quarter.

“They’re a good team,” Tjosvold explained. “It was a grind it out win.”

Shots by Pile, Reader and Rockhold-O’Brien provided Kimball with a razor slim lead well into the first quarter. But the Tigers, behind Seth Woods and Cole Stute, just about equaled them point by point.

As the opening period wound down, Kimball again edged ahead as Reuter drained a three with an assist from Rockhold-O’Brien and Colton Stull, fouled in the act by Jeremy Castillo, added two from the line.

But the visitors rallied once more. Tyler Freeland and Cade Duvel hit back to back shots early in the second and 6’5 senior Joe Rettele occupied the Longhorns big men so well, Reader fell into early foul trouble.

At the half, Dundy County-Stratton led 27-21. The gap increased to 8 points just after the break.

“The first half was a struggle,” Stull admitted. “We don’t start well.”

Kimball turned the ball over 10 times in the first 16 minutes of play and fired a woeful 4 of 12 from the line.

Worse, Reuter added, “we weren’t matching their physicality.”

Early in the third quarter, the tide began to turn. Reader powered along the baseline and sank a reverse lay up. Moments later the big forward fired a sharp bounce pass, catching Pile in stride for another basket.

“Some shots dropped early in the third,” Rockhold-O’Brien reported. “That gave us momentum.”

Indeed, over a 1:45 stretch of furious action midway through the third, Kimball forged an 11-0 run. Reuter hit a jumper from about eight feet then added two more points from the line seconds later. Pile peeled into the circle and drained a clean shot. Reuter converted after a Tigers turnover and Rockhold-O’Brien followed with a three pointer when Kimball pressure forced another mistake.

The Longhorns now led 36-33, but Dundy County-Stratton was hardly finished.

Freeland hit a fade away and scored again on the Tigers’ next possession. Reader answered with a strong inside move, but Freeland knocked yet another shot down after a frantic scramble under the net.

Dundy County-Stratton again edged out, 40-38. But the game’s complexion changed with 1:12 remaining in the period, when Rockhold-O’Brien worked his way into space inside the circle and found the net.

“Zach’s such a quick kid,” Tjosvold observed. “I thought he played with a lot of confidence.”

The balanced teetered as the final period began. Both sides struggled to regain their momentum.

With 5:38 left in the game Freeland drew the Tigers even, 44-44, with a free throw. But Reader answered with a one handed floater.

Kimball would not relinquish the lead.

Down the stretch Reuter hit 7 of 8 and Rockhold-O’Brien 4 of 6 to lock up the win. Reuter also blocked a shot.

“Caleb did an awesome job,” the coach said. “He made them work for everything they got.”

The game was tighter than the final 10 point margin would indicate. But it showed a quick turnaround from Kimball’s sloppy exhibition loss at Scottsbluff.

“We’ll get smoother,” Reuter promised.

 

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