By Tom Southard

Longhorns State Tournament Bound


Vicki Stull

The Kimball Longhorns pulled out on top of Districts and will be heading to the state tournament.

Hey Kimball basketball fans, gas up the car, pack a bag, ice down a cooler, we are going to Disney... No no not Disney World, we are going to the Nebraska State High School Boys' Basketball Tournament. The Longhorns did it again. Coach Tjosvold and his staff directed this year's outstanding group of young men through another District championship Monday night with an exciting 56-55 win over Ravenna, and it's a repeat of last year with the reward of a return trip to the Big Show in Lincoln.

Was there a doubt? There certainly was! Kimball found themselves trailing at the end of every quarter but the final one. They were facing the quickest, and quickest shooting, team they had faced all season, according to coach Tjosvold, but just like they did in the sub-district finals, they stayed calm, stayed with the game plan, and got the job done. Jake Reader opened the game scoring with a drive to the basket and had 8 first period points, but Kimball trailed 18-14 at the end of the first quarter as the Blue Jays hit a trey right at the buzzer. At half time, Kimball trailed 29-23 with Reader charted with 10 points, Mike Daum 8, and Henry Heeg 5.

Kimball outscored the Jays 12-10 in the third period to close to 39-35 at the end of three quarters of play with Michael Ferguson coming up with some key plays scoring once on a hard drive to the bucket and another time on a solid inside move, but both he and Reader had 3 fouls causing some concern. The fourth period started with Daum hitting a 16 footer, then coming up with a steal and feeding Colton Stull for a basket that tied it at 39-39. The Jays scored, but Jon Withrow tied it again at 41-41 on his driving layin. Ravenna scored the next 6 points to go up 47-41, but Reader made a strong move inside to score and was fouled allowing him to turn it into a 3 point play. The Jays scored on a drive to lead 49-44, but Stull fed Withrow for another layin with 3:06 remaining cutting the lead to 3. Ravenna went inside and banked one in to go back up by 5 and things were looking a bit scary for the Kimball crew. It's crunch time!

Can the Horns pull it out? You Daum right they can and did! Time for the big guy to take over. Trailing 51-46, Daum pulled down a rebound and put it right back up to close to 51-48 with 2:19 left. With 1:43 showing on the clock he nailed Kimball's only trey of the night to tie it at 51-51. With :58 seconds showing on the clock he had another rebound put-back basket and was fouled so he converted the 3 point play the old fashioned way to put the Horns on top 54-51. Daum was Dauminating! With :32 seconds to play Reader was fouled and calmly sank both ends of a one and one to give Kimball a 56-51 lead. When Ferguson came up with a huge defensive rebound with :21 left, it looked good for the Horns, but hold on. A Kimball turnover allowed the Jays to drive for a basket that cut the lead to 56-53. With 15.9 seconds remaining, Tjosvold and staff took time and set the inbound play as a run-out and it worked perfect, but a missed shot at the end gave it back to Ravenna. Not all bad, however, as a lot of time was run off the clock. With 2.2 seconds to play Ravenna went to the foul line after the Kimball coaches directed a quick foul to prevent a three pointer. The Jays were perfect on the night at the foul line and they made a pair. this time to complete the scoring for the evening. Daum was fouled when he took an inbounds pass and went to the line for the one and one with 0.1 showing on the game clock. He missed the free throw but it didn't matter as all Ravenna could do was heave the ball towards the other end. It was over, and the happy and boisterous Kimball following erupted with joy. They were already making plans for Lincoln, better than Disney World.

The Kimball team accepted the championship plaque and posed for pictures, then cut down the nets with each player getting a piece of cord for his own. The radio announcers were busy interviewing players and coaches, and the fans just mingled and smiled. Coach Tjosvold commented "It was big win for the kids. We were down most all of the game but nobody panicked. We made a few adjustments that seemed to work. We wanted Mike (Daum) inside for rebounds, but one of the biggest plays of the game was his trey late. Both Mike and Jake (Reader) are big time players, but I thought all of our kids played hard and did what we asked of them. I thought we played well all the way through. As coaches, we felt if we were within 3 or so late we could still pull it out and that's what happened. We beat a good team and the quickest team we faced this year so far. I really wanted to get this group back to Lincoln because I feel we can play with any team down there."

At the time of this writing, nothing was certain as to the brackets but we know that Kimball will play first round on Thursday, March 13, at Lincoln South East gymnasium and it appeared they would be the #4 seed and might be facing Southern Valley in the 3:45 p.m. game, but again, this was not official. One thing we do know is that Kimball has found a way to win the close ones.

Kimball 14 09 12 21 -- 56

Ravenna 18 11 10 16 -- 55

Game stats: Mike Daum takes game scoring honors with 24 points on 10/16 shooting for the field going 1/2 on treys and 9/14 on 2 point field goals, 3/4 at the line, had 17 rebounds, 1 steal 1 assist, and 1 block. Jake Reader had 17 points on 7/11 from the field and 3/3 at the line plus 2 boards and 1 block. Henry Heeg 5 points, Mike Ferguson 4 plus 6 rebounds, 2 steals, 2 assists, and 2 blocks. Jon Withrow 4 points, and Colton Stull 2 plus game high 3 assists.

As a team, Kimball was 7/10 at the line, 23/46 on 2 point field goals, 1/5 on 3 point fielders, 27 rebounds with 11 offensive, 5 steals, 6 assists, 4 blocks, 11 fouls, and 14 turnovers.

Ravenna was 5/5 at the line, had 15 fouls, 16/27 on 2 point fielders, 6/22 on 3 pointers, and had 16 rebounds. Thomas Sieczkowski was high for the Blue Jays with 21 including 5 treys.

Vicki Stull

Coach Tsjosvold celebrates as the Longhorns win the Distrct Championship.


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