They say it’s hard to beat the same basketball team four times in a season.
Don’t tell that to Sidney.
The Cowboys forced 18 turnovers and held East Mills to just 14 points and five field goals in the first half to score their fourth win over the Wolverines this season with a 53-37 victory in the Class 1A, District 13 semifinals last Tuesday.
“This was as bad as we’ve played since we played them in the conference tournament,” said East Mills coach Kevin Schafer after the game. The Wolverines dropped their second of four losses to the Cowboys in a Jan. 19 Corner Conference consolation bracket game, 51-35.
“We didn’t match their energy until the second half and it was too late. You’re not going to explode for a ton of points on them. I thought we had a few shots in that second quarter where if we could get it down from 14 (points) to eight or nine, it was manageable. And it went the wrong direction and they got up 17. We’re just not a good enough offensive team to make that up.”
From the opening tip the Cowboys (21-2 overall, 13-0 in the conference) looked like the more aggressive, active team. After a quarter the Cowboys led 18-6. And East Mills had seven turnovers, two field goals and no rhythm on offense.
By halftime, Sidney had led by as many as 18 and took a 31-14 lead into intermission.
“In that first half, they were the team that was willing to go on the floor while our kids were standing up reaching for it,” Schafer said. Their physical-ness definitely bothered us. I was a little upset that they were more physical than us but I look up and we have more fouls. They definitely play more physical than us.”
The Wolverines regrouped at halftime.
Sidney turned the ball over on five of their first six second half possessions allowing East Mills to trim the lead to 36-24 on Jacob Schafer’s runner with 2:42 to go in the quarter before the Cowboys regained the momentum to take a 14 point lead into the final frame.
In the fourth quarter, free throws by Schafer and Keegan Wederquist cut the lead to 42-32 with 5:04 to go. But that was as close as the Wolverines would get down the stretch.
Schafer was proud of how his young team never quit. East Mills out-scored the Cowboys 23-22 in the second half.
“I thought we played better basketball in the second half,” Schafer said. The first half, it just wasn’t the way we’ve been playing. I was glad to see us play in the second half like we can play.”
Wederquist paced East Mills with 13 points. Colden Hillyer added seven and Joe Van Sant five.
Noah McKeever led three Cowboys in double figures with 15 points. Jacob Cain scored 11 and Michael Coates added 10.
East Mills closes out its season with a record of 15-8 overall, including a 10-3 record in the Corner Conference.