Observations all along the line - Kimball & the Southern Panhandle First

Cinderella Horns 2nd At WTC Tourney

The Kimball Longhorns boys basketball team enters the final leg of its season as the Western Trails Conference Tournament runner-up.

The Longhorns program has rebounded nicely in just two years since a young, inexperienced squad took the floor following the departure of key players to graduation.

But now that's in the past. The sixth-seeded Horns upset third-seeded Bayard in the WTC's opening round and followed that up with a win over second-seeded Bridgeport in the semifinals.

The grand run for Kimball, which entered the tourney with a 5-12 record, ended with a loss to Gordon-Rushville in in the championship, but Longhorn Nation has good reason to be in high spirits right about now when it comes to its boys basketball program.

Coming up for the team were a Feb. 7 game against visiting Pine Bluffs and games Feb. 11 at Minitare and Feb. 17 at Mitchell. Subdistricts are scheduled for Feb. 20-23.

Head coach Chad Miller provided the following reports after each of the WTC tournament games. The Hudle rating that he refers to comes from Agile Sports Technologies Inc., a Lincoln-based company that provides tools for coaches and athletes to review game footage and improve team play.

Kimball 73, Bayard 29

Feb. 2

"Here are some staggering team & individual stats from last night's victory (73-29) vs. #3 seed Bayard and avenging an earlier loss (58-68) in the season. As a team we shot 73.8% eFG% for the game with over 80% eFG% in the 2nd and 3rd quarters. Total Hudl VPS rating was 1.77 as a team, which is the highest rating for us to date in a game. We shot 8/10, 80% for the game from 3 point range and we out rebounded our opponents 37-12.

"Last meeting Bayard hit seven 3 pointers and last night we were able to hold them to 0/9 from beyond the arc. Individually Kyler Lusche had a Double-Double with 22 points and 12 rebounds while going 4/6 from 3 point range and adding 3 assists and 2 blocks.

"Brandon Paxton added 21 points and 9 rebounds, shooting 7/10 from the field and adding 6 steals and 4 blocks. Wyatt Cords added 10 points while shooting 83.3% eFG%, 4/6 from the field, and adding 3 assists. Braxton Miller added 9 points while shooting 112.5% eFG%, 4/4 from the field, and adding 4 assists and 4 rebounds. Bransyn Kiefer charted 2 assists and 3 rebounds.

"Bransyn along with Ryker Behrend were tasked with shutting down Bayard's leading scorer, who averages over 18 per game and both did a tremendous job holding him to only 6 points on the night. Ryker Behrend added 5 points along with 4 assists and 2 steals. Trevor Fuss added 4 points and 4 rebounds shooting 100% from the foul line. Draco Miller also scored 2 points, Landon Norberg an assist, and Braylon Miller 1 steal.

"Every player had a Hudl VPS rating over 1.00 for the second time this season, and I could not be more proud of just how effective everyone was in an effort to get to the next round."

Kimball 62, Bridgeport 58

Feb. 3

"Yesterday evening was a big win for our team and our program. Coming from the 6th seed in the Western Trails Conference tournament and knocking off both the #3 and #2 seeds to get to the finals is a huge accomplishment!!

"First time in 9 years, back when a fellow named Mike Daum played for Kimball, that we are going to the championship game!!

"Big stats in the win over #2 seeded Bridgeport include: 1.64 Hudl VPS rating as a team, 62.8% eFG% and 90% in the 3rd quarter, 19 assists to only 14 turnovers, 42.9% 3PT%, 1.12 PPS, and held our opponents to only 4 transition points.

"Individually Kyler Lusche had another Double-Double with 22 points and 10 rebounds, while also adding 5 blocks and 4 assists. Brandon Paxton also had a Double-Double with 18 points and 10 rebounds to go along with 2 blocks, 2 assists, and an 81.8% eFG% going 9 of 11 from the field ... all before fouling out prior to the 4th quarter.

"Braxton Miller was just 2 assists short of his own Double-Double, going for 13 points and 8 assists for an assist to turnover (A/TO) ratio of 8.00. He also added 5 rebounds, 2 steals, and a 108.3% eFG% knocking in 3 for 3 from beyond the arc and 5 of 6 from the field ... all on his way to gaining the highest Hudl VPS rating in a game so far this season by any player with a 5.43 rating.

"Bransyn Kiefer also had 5 assists and 2 steals on the night and Ryker Behrend added 8 points and 2 steals while shooting 70% eFG%."

Gordon-Rushville 63, Kimball 39

Feb. 4

"The boys played very hard throughout the tournament and represented Kimball well. Coach Tjosvold and I are very pleased with their efforts and the sky's the limit if these young men continue to make the decisions that it takes to progress forward.

"This WTC conference tournament as well as the SPVA tournament was a great experience for us this season and I am sure one that will inspire them as well as maybe some youth to want to keep grinding. Truly a pleasure being their coach and I could not be more proud of all of our players. Hopefully this experience is a memory they will remember and cherish for a long time."

Kyler Lusche led the Longhorns with 11 points on 4 field goals and three free throws. He also led the team with 9 rebounds, while Brandon Paxton grabbed 7 and led Kimball with 5 blocks. Braxton Miller dished off 3 assists to lead the team. Three players made 2 steals each to lead the team: Lusche, Ryker Behrend and Trevor Fuss.