By Tom Southard

Eight Straight, Eight Straight


Vicki Stull

Jake Reader, Angel Flores and Michael Ferguson anticipate the shot.

EIGHT STRAIGHT! That's 8-STRAIGHT! Eight straight Western Trails Conference Tournament championships for the Kimball

High Boys! Eight Straight tourney titles for Kimball teams coached by Coach Bruce Tjosvold. What a streak, and thanks to you Kimball fans for giving me the head line for this story.

You see, the Kimball fans began the chant of "Eight Straight" in the closing minutes and closing seconds of the championship game with Bridgeport at Cougar Palace Saturday evening and it gave this old sports writer chills. This was something special! This was a big win for coach Tjosvold and the Kimball boys as they avenged a 74-57 loss at the hands of the Bridgeport team just 1 week prior, and in the three meetings between these two clubs this season, Kimball has now won two of them, and there is a good chance they will meet again in the sub-district tournament. With their win a week ago, Bridgeport had knocked Kimball out of the top ten rankings in the state Class-C-2 rankings by the Omaha World Herald, with the Bulldogs taking over the #10 spot. Could be a change again this week after Kimball's 49-38 victory Saturday evening.

Kimball's quest for a championship repeat began on Thursday night on the home court where they entertained Gordon/Rushville in first round play with Kimball the #3 seed and the Mustangs the #6 seed. An easy win for the Horns as they won out 69-29. The starters retired early and the reserves saw a lot of court time. Colton Stull got things started with his drive to the basket and then Mike Daum took over as he tallied 14 first quarter points including a couple of his patented long treys. By half time he had 21 points and after a couple of back to back 3 pointers in the third period, the starters were done for the night and Daum took a seat after netting 5 treys and 27 points, along with 8 rebounds, 3 steals, 1 block and 1 assist. The bench finished out the third period and all of the fourth.

Nine players got into the scoring act for Kimball with Jake Reader scoring 11 along with 7 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals in his short night. Henry Heeg finished with 9 points with a trey on 4/5 shooting, Michael Ferguson had 8 points with 3 rebounds, 2 blocks and 2 steals, Ethan Land had 5 with a trey, Jaden Withrow hit his only attempt for a trey and 3 points, Angel Flores, Trent Rutledge, and Colton Stull all had 2 each.

The team stats showed Kimball shooting 29/65 from the field including 8/21 on 3 point attempts, 3/6 at the foul line, 39 rebounds with 13 offensive, 11 steals, 12 assists, 3 blocks, 10 fouls, and 8 turnovers. No one in double figures for the visiting Mustangs as they were 10/50 from the field and 6/13 at the line with 6 fouls and 28 rebounds. The easy part of the tournament repeat was over. It would get a lot tougher quick!

Kimball 21 18 19 11 -- 69

Gordon/Rushville 04 13 06 06 -- 29

Next up for the Kimball boys was Hemingford, the #2 seed, who also had an easy first round win over Morrill winning out 66 -27.

Coach Randy Hiemestra and the Bobcats had a solid game plan of not letting Mike Daum get involved offensively. It worked as they kept two defensive players on him at all times, front and back, and they also got the big guy a couple of quick fouls which got him some bench time early. Would you believe they kept the state's top scorer scoreless for three quarters? They held Daum to 10 points, all in the fourth period. But basketball is a team sport and his team mates stepped up and got the job done. Jake Reader scored 19 going 7/9 at the line and pulling a double-double with 13 rebounds, plus 4 assists and 2 steals. Mike Ferguson was 3/5 from the field for 6 points and hauled in 5 rebounds.

Colton Stull hit a couple of crucial baskets for 4 points. Ethan Land came off the bench to hit a big trey when Kimball was down 7-4 to tie it at the start of the second period and his 3 may have been the difference. Henry Heeg had 2 points along with pounding the boards for 8 rebounds plus a steal and an assist. Angel Flores and Jonathon Withrow didn't score but played big roles in the win.

Making your free throws may have been the difference as Kimball was 11/16 and Hemingford 8/16. Kimball was 16/46 from the field going 1/9 on three pointers, had 34 rebounds with 8 offensive, 9 assists, 6 steals, 1 blocked shot, 11 fouls, and 16 turnovers. Hemingford was charted with 28 rebounds, 14/54 from the field going 5/24 on 3 pointers. Matthew Wood, 6'2" junior who can jump out of the gym, led the Bobcat scoring with 25.

Although Daum was shut out for 3 periods, he came through big when it counted in the fourth with his 10 points, 7 rebounds, 1 block and 1 assist. The Horns would advance to that title game.

Kimball 04 13 10 17 -- 44

Hemingford 07 07 07 20 -- 41

The hard fought win over Hemingford sent the Horns into the championship game against the #1 seed Bridgeport club who had received a first round bye, and had won 63-43 over Mitchell in their semi final game Friday night. With both teams sporting a win over each other, this was the rubber match and it was for all of the marbles. Kimball was still smarting from that 74-57 loss of a week earlier, and they were ready to battle. Ferguson took the opening tip on a hard drive to the basket to open the scoring. Daum followed with a 16 footer and the battle was on. Daum hit a trey at the end of the first quarter to give Kimball a narrow 10-8 lead after one period of play. Daum was wanting his shots after the Friday night shut-down, and by half time he already had 3 treys from long range and 14 points as Kimball forged out to a 25-12 lead. He also had 9 rebounds already, and the Horns had out scored the Dogs 15-4 in the second period of play.

The third quarter opened with Daum scoring from inside to go up 27-12, and ended with Stull hitting a 14 footer to just beat the buzzer with Kimball scoring 7 points and Bridgeport 4. The fourth period the scoring heated up again as Bridgeport made a valiant come-back to outscore Kimball 22-17 but they came too late with too little with the final score board reading 49-38 and the Kimball fans yelling EIGHT STRAIGHT.

Daum and Reader were held under their scoring averages, but Daum was high with 18 including 3 treys and hauled in 16 rebounds as he worked hard inside on this important night. He also intercepted 3 steals. Reader finished with 12 points, 4 rebounds, 2 blocks, 1 steal and 1 assist. Good night for Ferguson with 7 points going 3/4 from the field and charting 8 rebounds. Good night for Stull with 7 points, and Jonathon Withrow hit a big 3 pointer for his 3 points, and Henry Heeg had a pair of free throws for 2 points.

The Horns did not have a good night at the foul line hitting on 11/25, but they held down their own fouling with just 6 while Bridgeport was whistled for 19 fouls and never went to the foul line the entire game. Kimball shot 17/40 from the field going 4/11 on 3 pointers, had 34 rebounds with 6 offensive, had 6 steals, 4 assists, 2 blocks, and 16 turnovers.

Bridgeport hauled in 26 rebounds, were 16/54 from the field going 8/24 on 3 point attempts and 8/30 on 2 point fielders. Quentin Baxter finished with 12, Kaleb DeCora 10, Mitchel Dudden l0, and Jaime Gonzales 6.

Coach Tjosvold was quite happy with the honor of bringing home yet another championship plaque for the Kimball High trophy case but pushed aside any plaudits as to his part in the string of victories. "I have been blessed with a lot of really good athletes through the years and give all of these kids the credit. I am really happy with the way this bunch of young men stepped up and played defense. Our 1-3-1 defense worked well and the kids ran it like we have practiced it. Teams work hard to stop Mike (Daum) from scoring, and when they do, we need other players to step up and they did. Again, I can't say enough good things about the way we played defense. This is what made it all possible. It's been fun," said Tjosvold.

A tough weekend facing Kimball as they have Hemingford Friday night on the home court and go to Sutherland Saturday night. These are the two teams that have held Daum to his lowest scoring numbers all season. JV game times Friday are 4 p.m. with the girl's varsity at 5:30 and the boy's varsity at 7. Saturday game times are early with JV start time at 2 p.m. Central time followed by girls and boys varsity games. Girls' sub-district begins Monday in Sidney.


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