MALVERN - The Sidney boys battled back from seven points down over the final four minutes to secure their first Corner Conference Basketball Tournament title since 2002 with a 42-40 victory over Fremont-Mills on Saturday at East Mills High School.
“We had our opportunities to finish them off and we didn’t,” said Fremont-Mills coach Matt Thompson. “We didn’t shoot it well and we didn’t get many second chances. We had just three offensive rebounds so we didn’t have a lot of additional opportunities.”
The Knights’ defense bottled up the Cowboys’ offense in the first half, leading to a 24-15 Fremont-Mills’ lead. But Sidney heated up in the second half to out-score the Knights 27-16 after halftime. Thompson points to his team’s second half shooting as the biggest reason why his team struggled in the second half. After going 8-of-21 from the field in the first half, the Knights shot just 4-of-21 in the second half.
“I think they (Sidney) did a good job in the second half of cutting off our dribble penetration,” Thompson said. “They must have taken four or five charges and didn’t give us any second shots.”
The Knights had their lead trimmed to three to start the fourth quarter and saw the Cowboys take the lead for good on a Casey Cruikshank layup and free throw with 30 seconds left. Cruickshank led Sidney with 13 points and 15 rebounds.
“We took some untimely shots when we should have been working the ball, getting better shots,” Thompson said.
Nate Meier led the Knights with 13 points and 13 rebounds. Nick Williams and A.J. Scarborough added seven points each.
Clarinda Academy 51
Corey Morrical, A.J. Scarborough and Nate Meier combined for 44 of Fremont-Mills points in a 54-51 victory over Clarinda Academy in the semifinals of the Corner Conference tournament on Thursday.
The Knights struggled shooting the ball from the field (42.8 percent) and at the line (15-of-35) and were out-rebounded 40-39 but held the Eagles to 28.1 percent shooting from the field on the defensive end.
Morrical led all scorers with 17 points. Scarborough added 14 points and 14 rebounds and Meier chipped in with 13 points.
Fremont-Mills held Essex to just 14 first-half points in a rugged, 57-32 victory in the Corner Conference Tournament second round last Tuesday.
The Knights held the Trojans two just two field goals the final 12 minutes of the first half and led 27-14 at intermission.
Fremont-Mils (9-3 overall, 5-2 in the conference), who had lost two straight conference games since winning their first five, wanted to be the aggressors, mixing zone defense and man-to-man while getting out, pushing the ball in transition.
“We always like to push the ball up the court offensively,” said Fremont-Mills coach Matt Thompson. “We sat back in a zone that first quarter and we were pretty much in control. In the second half we tried to force the issue a little bit and play faster.”
After each team scored eight points in the third quarter, the Knights exploded for a 22-10 fourth quarter run. Nate Meier’s layup with 3:02 to go in the game gave Fremont-Mills its biggest lead of the night at 49-26.
The Trojans managed to trim the lead to 51-32 with 1:35 to go but could get no closer.
All night Fremont-Mills’ rugged, scrappy defense had a hand in the Trojans’ faces and passing lanes. The Essex offense was held to a season-low in points and field goal shooting (23 percent on 12-of-52 shooting).
“We can play defense we just have been struggling lately to not foul,” Thompson said. “If we can keep our hands off them we can be pretty salty on defense.”
The Knights had a balanced night on offense with Meier lead six Knights to score six or more points. Meier finished with 10, Nick Williams and Clayton Wilson nine each, Logan Wood had eight, and Corey Morrical and A.J. Scarborough chipped in six points each.
“That’s kind of been our thing all year,” Thompson said. “We’ve had a couple kids get a 20 points night here or there but for the most part, we’ve got about seven kids who can score. Hopefully that makes us harder to guard. It’s nice to see that many kids score.”