Villisca rattled off 21 straight points in an eight minute stretch of the first half to pull away from Fremont-Mills for a 52-36 victory in the Corner Conference tournament championship in front of a reporter-estimated crowd of 1,000 in Tabor’s Lied Gymnasium Saturday.
“We dug ourselves too big of a hole,” Fremont-Mills coach Matt Thompson said after the game. “I didn’t think our effort was real good and we didn’t make shots, we didn’t defend. We didn’t do anything well during that stretch and that was the difference in the ball game right there.”
After a cold start for both teams to open the game, Villisca’s fast-break almost immediately paid dividends as the Bluejays got behind the Knight defense repeatedly late in the first frame to take a 11-7 lead into the second quarter.
They wouldn’t slow down in the second quarter. Villisca scored the first 17 points of the quarter to go up 28-7. Over the 5:22 span the Knights struggled to hit shots against the Bluejays tight 2-3 zone and Villisca took advantage.
Fremont-Mills did not get on the board in the frame until Aaron Flueren’s three-pointer with 2:06 to go in the half. Flueren would hit two more from long range in the quarter to keep the Knights within striking distance but still trailing 32-16 at intermission.
“The difference was they didn’t make shots,” Villisca coach Jim Obermeier said. “They shot a lot of perimeter shots and we got rebounds and got some easy transition shots.”
Fremont-Mills came out in the third quarter determined to slice into the lead but the Bluejays wouldn’t make it easy. After pushing their lead to 39-19 with 5:34 to go in the frame, the Knights got their first points of the game from Dakota Thomas and back-to-back three pointers by Flueren and Clayton Wilson and another layup from Thomas in a 10-0 run that sliced the lead to 31-41 by the end of the third quarter.
In the fourth, the Knights closed the cap to 41-33 on Colton Dodson’s reverse layup but it was close as they would get.
But, sensing the Knights seizing the momentum, Obermeier called a timeout and took the air out of ball in a stall game that worked perfected to disrupt the Knights’ flow.
“They’re real good at that,” Thompson. “When they go into stall game they do a good job of it. They shortened the game up. Our hats off to them. They played well, got a timeout when they needed, got their composure and took care of the ball.”
Over the final 4:54, Villisca held the ball for long stretches in a four-corners stall that forced the Knights to foul. The Bluejays hit 8-of-12 free throws down the stretch to ice the win.
“We started out a little but rough missing some easy shots but we played pretty good defense,” said Villisca coach Jim Obermeier. “They hit some shots to get back in and we had to change gears a little bit in the third quarter. We like to get up and down the court a little bit but we had to run our slowdown to get them in foul trouble and we did that.”
Thompson said the ending was what his Knights hoped for, but he was happy with his team’s never quit attitude.
“I was proud of the kids,” he said. “We kind of hung our heads at times but they did a good job of getting fired up and coming back so I was happy with that. They didn’t fold in the tent and go home.”
The Knights played without senior guard Kevin Herrick in the line up. Herrick took an elbow to the head in Thursday’s semifinal win over Sidney and sat out Saturday’s final with concussion-like symptoms. Thompson said not having Herrick’s leadership and experience was a “big time” loss.
“One of his best games of the year was against Villisca last time when we beat them,” Thompson said. “He’s a big reason we won that game, being the floor general out there for us. He takes care of the ball and he’s able to break down defenses a little bit with his penetration and hitting shots. It hurt not having him but we’ll get him rested up and we’ll have him for the stretch.”
The title is Villisca’s fourth in the past seven years after winning in 2007, 2008 and 2009. The Bluejay girls also took home the conference tournament crown.
Flueren’s 15 points paced the Knights.
Austin Sorensen led Villisca with 16 points. Travis Herzberg chipped in 14 and Max Mauderly, 12.
East Mills 35
Sidney held East Mills to 22 percent shooting from the field in a 51-35 Corner Conference tournament consolation game on Saturday in Tabor.
The Wolverines connected on just 12-of-54 shots and trailed 28-18 at the half.
Colden Hillyer led East Mills with 17 points. Keegan Wederquist scored eight points and grabbed 10 rebounds.
East Mills 49
Damon Sunderman led four Bluejays in double-figures with 15 points as Villisca knocked off East Mills 59-49 in the Corner Conference tournament semifinals.
The Bluejays, who defeated the Wolverines nine days ago 47-36, got out to a 16-7 first quarter lead they never relinquished.
Sunderman scored 15 points to lead Villisca. Travis Herzberg and Austin Sorensen each added 13 and Max Mauderly, 11.
Colden Hillyer paced East Mills with 17 points and Jacob Schafer added 14.
Keegan Wederquist pulled down 13 rebounds to go with his eight points.
Fremont-Mills out-scored Sidney 28-19 after halftime to pull away from Sidney in a 54-43 Corner Conference semifinal win on Thursday.
Jace Kemp led the Knights with 18 points on 6-of-16 shooting and Aaron Flueren added 14 points.
Clayton Wilson chipped in five points, 13 rebounds and three blocked shots.
Michael Coates led Sidney with 13 points.
East Mills 59,
Clarinda Academy 43
East Mills sprinted out to a 20-9 first quarter lead in a 59-43 victory over Clarinda Academy in the Corner Conference Boys Basketball Tournament quarterfinals last Tuesday.
The Wolverines got 15 points each from Colden Hillyer and Keegan Wederquist in the win. Wederquist also pulled down 17 rebounds and Hillyer 10. Junior guard Jacob Schafer pitched in with 12 points.
Deshawn Triplett led Clarinda Academy with a game-high 19 points.
South Page 52
Clayton Wilson and Dakota Thomas combined for 47 points for Fremont-Mills in a 68-52 win over South Page in the quarterfinals of the Corner Conference Boys Basketball Tournament last Tuesday.
Wilson was 9-of-17 from the field and scored 24 points while grabbing 17 rebounds. Thomas chipped in 23 points and seven boards.