The East Mills boys continued its stifling defensive play in the Corner Conference tournament with a 50-32 victory over Villisca in last Thursday's semifinals.
The Wolverines advance to play Clarinda Academy in the conference title game. The championship game, postponed from Saturday due to inclement weather, will be played Saturday, Jan. 29 at Fremont-Mills High School at 7:30 p.m.
Against the Bluejays, the Wolverines held their second straight opponent to less than 35 percent shooting and forced more than 20 turnovers. Villisca shot just 34.2 percent (13-of-38) and turned the ball over 23 times against the Wolverines' stifling defense.
“Their main ballhandler was ill and didn't play,” said East Mills coach Kevin Schafer of the Bluejays being without conference leading scorer Marshall Dolch. “If he's not the best player in the league, he's in the top two. With him ill we decided to press and I think as time went on they go worn down, they had a lot of guys who don't handle the ball so they helped us.”
To make matters worse for the Bluejays, second leading scorer Timmy Smith went down right before halftime.
“He was averaging like 19 points per game so that really put them in a bind,” said Schafer.
The Wolverines led by just seven at the end of three quarters before outscoring Villisca 18-7 in the final frame.
“We didn't get a whole lot of steals on our press in the third quarter but I think we did wear them down,” said Schafer. “In the fourth quarter they started making some mistakes and most of those steals turned into fast break layups.”
Luke Schafer again had the hot hand on the offensive end for East Mills. The junior guard hit 10-of-16 shots for 24 points. Kaleb Richer added eight points and Pierre Bassich chipped in with seven points and seven rebounds.
Nick Eblen led Villisca with eight points.
Saturday's championship will be a rematch of last season's Corner Conference championship game between the Wolverines and top seeded Clarinda Academy. East Mills defeated the Eagles 68-40 in last year's game. Schafer knows it won't be that easy this year.
“They might be even better than they were last year,” said Schafer. “And obviously we're not the offensive team we were last year. We're going to have our hands full. They have (second leading conference scorer) Jordan Brown. If Dolch isn't the best player in the league, Brown is. And their role players are really gelling as a team.”
Clarinda Academy 70,
Jordan Brown scored a game-high 27 points to lead Clarinda Academy past Fremont-Mills 70-44 in the quarterfinals of the Corner Conference Tournament last Tuesday.
The Knights (4-7 overall, 2-3 in the conference) trailed just 36-44 heading into the final frame but the Eagles out scored Fremont-Mills 27-8 over the final eight minutes to pull away.
Corey Morrical led the Knights with nine points. Nate Meier added eight.
Damani Matthews added 11 points and Jeff Titsworth eight to go with Brown's 27.
East Mills 57,
The East Mills basketball team outscored Stanton 21-3 in the fourth quarter to pull away for a 57-29 victory in the opening quarterfinals of the Corner Conference tournament last Tuesday.
The Wolverines forced the Vikings into just 33.3 percent shooting (11-of-33) from the field and 28 turnovers with its full court pressure.
Luke Schafer keyed the East Mills offensive effort with 19 points. Kaleb Richer added 11 points.
Jeff Marshall led Stanton with 10 points.
East Mills 65,
C.B. Thomas Jefferson 60
East Mills' Luke Schafer blistered Council Bluffs Thomas Jefferson for a career-high 42 points in a 65-60 Wolverines' win on Sept. 14.
Schafer, a 5-foot-8 guard, hit 16-of-21 shots from the field, including 2-of-3 from behind the arc, and 8-of-9 free throws for his 42 point night. The junior also added 11 steals.
Colden Hillyer pitched in with eight points for the Wolverines.