Jays silence the Thunder at home

Bluejay fans welcomed week nine of the regular season with some rivalry basketball when Sabetha matched up with Nemaha Central Tuesday, Feb. 6, at home. This was the rubber match of the season with the Jays defeating the Thunder in week four, 49-33, in Seneca, and Sabetha was looking for the sweep with a win in this game. Nemaha Central took the lead early in the game, held the Bluejays at an arms length through three quarters and led by 13 points headed into the home stretch. But Sabetha outplayed their guests in the fourth quarter and captured the win, 44-41.

“We showed mental toughness in our game against Nemaha Central,” said Head Coach Josh Wertenberger. “It takes mental toughness to play solid defense while our offense wasn’t scoring, to make free throws, and to not admit defeat when there is still time left.”

Nemaha Central jumped out to a 6-0 advantage and would outscore the Jays 10-5 in the first frame. Senior Jacob Grimm posted his team’s first points with a power spin move and a layup halfway through the quarter, and senior Marcus Bauman hit three free throws.

The rim didn’t seem to cooperate for the home team as Sabetha struggled to get their shots to fall. Junior La’Ta’Veyon Thomas came off of the bench and gave an added boost to his team in the second quarter, swishing a triple and burying two free throws for 5 points. Grimm added a bucket, as did junior Kyler Wenger, but the Thunder would outscore their hosts 12-9 in the second period and take a 22-14 lead into the locker room at the intermission.

“The first half we didn’t play like ourselves, we didn’t take care of the ball, shots weren’t falling and we weren’t working as hard on defense as we should have,” Bauman said. “But Wert [Coach Wertenberger] got us going at half and during the third quarter we started getting back to Sabetha basketball. We started hitting some shots and got after them on defense and they could not handle it.”

“Nemaha Central was definitely a grind it out type of game,” said senior guard Will Ulrich. “Shots were not falling, and foul trouble made it hard for us. We knew we had what it took to win the game, we just had to do it.”

Sabetha began to turn the corner in the second half and would edge out Nemaha Central in the third quarter, 9-8. Bauman began stalking the lane and had 6 points in the period, and senior Christian McAfee had his first bucket of the night in the third frame. With one quarter to play, Sabetha trailed, 30-23.

“We put the press on them and that created offense. Our offense finally came to life in the fourth,” Ulrich said.

With full court pressure applied to force turnovers and a match-up zone to limit Nemaha Central from getting the easy bucket, the Bluejays began to chip away at the Thunder lead. Bauman erupted for 10 points in the final quarter, McAfee had a pair of scores and Ulrich punished his opponent for leaving an opening by swishing a trey.

Sabetha took their first lead of the game at the 3:04 mark of the fourth quarter. Nemaha Central became desperate to regain the advantage, but their fouls put Sabetha at the line and the Jays converted. The scoring differential in the fourth quarter was Sabetha with 21 and the Thunder with 11. The Bluejays would take the win, complete the regular season sweep of the Thunder and remain unbeaten in Big Seven play with a 44-41 win at home.

“The game was super fun, at least during the fourth quarter. We got some clutch free throws when we needed it and we were able to close it out. This game just shows what kind of team we can be when we really buy in and leave it all on the court,” Bauman said.

Bauman led all scorers with 19 points, Grimm and McAfee had 6 apiece, with Thomas and Ulrich accounting for 5 points each.

“I love how we never gave up the fight. We all know what we are capable of as a team and we wanted to show it in the second half,” said senior manager Logan LaVoie. “We only turned the ball over four times in the second half, and won the rebounding battle by seven boards without giving up a single three-pointer the whole game, holding them to 0-11 from behind the arc.”

Nemaha Central 2.6.2024 ISSUE

Player

TP

2PM-A

3PM-A

FTM-A

R

A

S

TO

PF

Kalvin Evans

0

0-0

0-0

0-0

0

0

0

0

1

Will Ulrich

5

0-3

1-3

2-2

1

1

0

1

4

Kyler Wenger

2

1-2

0-1

0-0

0

2

1

1

3

Marcus Bauman

19

4-7

1-4

8-9

4

1

1

3

0

Kellen Wenger

0

0-0

0-0

0-2

1

0

0

0

0

Brody Deters

0

0-0

0-0

0-0

1

1

0

2

1

LaTaveyon Thomas

5

0-0

1-1

2-2

4

0

0

1

2

Tyler Menold

1

0-2

0-0

1-2

5

1

0

2

3

Christian McAfee

6

3-5

0-0

0-0

2

0

1

2

4

Jacob Grimm

6

2-5

0-0

2-2

5

0

0

2

1

Nate Menold

0

0-0

0-1

0-0

3

1

0

2

1

Luke Renyer

0

0

0

0

0

0

Harper Schmelzle

0

0

0

0

0

0

Charlie Lukert

0

0

0

0

0

0

Tyse Frazee

0

0

0

0

0

0

TOTALS

Player

2PM-A

3PM-A

FTM-A

R

A

S

TO

PF

TP

Sabetha Totals

10-24

3-10

15-19

26

7

3

16

20

44

Opponent Totals

18-31

0-11

5-11

18

9

7

10

20

41

Pete Schuetz175 Posts

Pete Schuetz is a reporter for The Sabetha Herald, where he has been on staff since 2022. Pete is a retired teacher from the USD 113 Prairie Hills School district. He lives in Sabetha with his wife and one of his two sons.

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